Steve McClaren is playing a dangerous game with Aleksandar Mitrovic in the aftermath of the defeat at Arsenal.

The United boss has said that if Olivier Giroud had been playing for Newcastle instead of Arsenal then the result would have gone to the Magpies.

Whether or not this a ploy to put extra pressure on Mike Ashley to allow another striker to come in during the January window, it is hardly going to inspire Mitrovic to hear his boss saying that.

It is the equivalent to if McClaren had said last Monday, if we’d had the West Brom keeper instead of Karl Darlow Newcastle would have beaten the Baggies.

The Serbian striker only has three goals and was dropped in favour of Papiss Cisse but not only is he McClaren’s only centre forward who is available at the minute, at the start of the season the Head coach repeatedly said that Mitrovic was the key player in his team, the one who they were building their game plan around.

In these latest comments, Steve McClaren himself points out that Riviere still isn’t available and has revealed that the forecast now for Papiss Cisse is that he will be out ‘for the next two or three months’.

To talk of Cisse and Riviere’s lack of availability as some kind of big blow to Newcastle’s season is surely ludicrous – at the start of the season the pair were seen as squad players at the very best.

Riviere looked hopelessly out of his depth last year when he scored only one Premier League goal all season, whilst Cisse is hardly somebody you can rely on despite a decent goal record overall – his desire and commitment looking often suspect in recent times.

Just because Mitrovic cost a (for Newcastle) hefty transfer fee, it was always a massive gamble bringing in an inexperienced 20 year old from a far weaker league and instantly expecting him to be the answer to Newcastle’s goalscoring problems.

Any solution (for Mike Ashley) must surely involve Mitrovic playing a key part in the rest of the season, as it looks beyond the realms of possibility that the owner would accept a big money/wages signing like the former Anderlecht striker regularly sitting on the bench. So I would assume that any potential new forward/goalscorer would be to play alongside Mitrovic, rather than instead of him.

Mitrovic actually had a decent game overall against the Arsenal defence but sadly didn’t take the two or three half decent chances that came his way.

The Serbian striker can quite rightly say in mitigation that the McClaren team formation/selection has left him starved of service most of the time but between them all they need to come up with a solution very quickly.

Which will have to be without Olivier Giroud…

Steve McClaren:

“I think if we’d have had Olivier Giroud, we would have comfortably won the game.

“That is the difference in football. You’re always searching for that.

“But unfortunately at the present moment, Emmanuel Riviere is injured, or at least coming back from injury, and Papiss Cisse, who is a goalscorer, is injured for the next two or three months.

“We have got other goalscorers in there. We just need to step up to the plate and start scoring and doing our job.”