Aleksandar Mitrovic is averaging a goal every 10 or so minutes in his last half hour of play for Newcastle United but has no victory to show for it.

One of Newcastle’s better performers against Sunderland and scoring that late equaliser, it was a major surprise when Rafa Benitez dropped him for the crunch match at Norwich.

Of course he wasn’t alone, with a number of other surprises, as Anita, Taylor and Tiote all started.

Papiss Cisse did ok but it was only when Aleksandar Mitrovic was introduced in the 62nd minute when Newcastle began to look a threat.

With two goals, when interviewed after the game, reference was made as to him being left on the bench but the striker said that was Rafa Benitez to answer.

Which he did below when also interviewed after the game and asked about his decision….

Aleksandar Mitrovic speaking to the club’s official tv channel:

“Difficult game for us, we were all very disappointed.

“We didn’t deserve to lose this game but we can do nothing now. We need to think about the next game and hope Norwich lose points.

“We speak before the game, it was a massive game and we lose today but now it is finished and the best way to make the step up is to win the next game and come back in the race.

“We must stay strong – if we want to do something we need to start winning games and don’t give easy goals like today. Every mistake, they scored a goal.

“It is not so easy to come back from 1-0 and then 2-1 and we had our fans – they were amazing and I hope they will stay with us these seven games because we will now need them more than ever – with them anything is possible.”

‘You weren’t in the starting 11 today…but what a great reaction from you?’

“It is not my job to speak about that but I come from the bench and scored two goals.

“I hope I help my team to play football, play better football than we did first half, we turned the game around. First half we didn’t play like what we want but we didn’t deserve to lose – but we need to move on and prepare for the next game at Southampton.”

Rafa Benitez was asked if he regretted leaving Mitrovic out of his team…:

“Not really, he came back late after the international break…we have players flying around the world and (other) players training with you.

“When we were 1-0 down we had to play everyone in attack and the substitutions worked well – but you have to decide before the game who is in form – or who has done well in training during the whole week.”

When I saw the line-up I did guess that Benitez had decided to go with players and a system he’d worked on during the international break – leading to the inclusion of Anita, Cisse and Tiote in their respective positions, as well as Taylor and Darlow coming in.

Maybe the sad conclusion is that whatever formation/strategy Rafa uses, the players available just aren’t good enough.

I would though definitely be tempted to play Cisse and Mitrovic together from now on – absolutely nothing to lose.