Whilst Rafa Benitez and his players will all now have their focus on Craven Cottage and Friday 5 August, Aleksandar Mitrovic will only have eyes for Brighton.
The Serbian striker misses the games against Fulham (A), Huddersfield (H), Reading (H) and Bristol City (A) due to his four game suspension picked up against Spurs on the final day of last season.
To make matters worse, Mitrovic then immediately heads off on international duty with a two week gap after Brighton (Home) on August 27, until the away game at Derby on 10 September. So it will be five weeks into the season before he stands a chance of playing his second game of the campaign.
Some big decisions for Rafa Benitez because with a fast start being a massive help, are his plans going to be built mainly around the Serbian striker and if so, in his absence what will be the alternative.
It will also affect pre-season because knowing that Mitrovic will be missing those first four games, it will hardly make sense to have the former Anderlecht forward at the heart of the preparations.
If ever there was a hollow victory it was that one against Tottenham, winning 5-1 with 10 men in a match that didn’t matter, whilst at the same time losing your main striker for four games of the next season when everything matters. Nothing was said in public but I hope Mitrovic was given the maximum club fine possible for his selfish stupidity.
The situation has echoes of last season, when Steve McClaren blamed much of the early season problems on the fact that they had planned much of their attacking play around Mitrovic, only for him to play a very small part in that start to the season.
Having said that, I’m not sure what Steve McClaren’s excuse was for the rest of that shambles of a season…
It took until 26 September for Mitrovic to become properly involved, Newcastle drawing 2-2 with Chelsea in an excellent game, with both the striker and his team-mates producing the goods.
Before that match, in the previous six games Mitrovic played a total of only 127 minutes, an isolated decent 88 minute shift at Old Trafford mixed with two immediate yellow cards in brief substitute appearances against Swansea & Southampton, whilst he lasted only 16 minutes before his red card at home to Arsenal.
Whilst the futures of Wijnaldum & Sissoko and potentially who to replace them, are obviously important, I think it is clear that the most important question is who Rafa Benitez is going to most rely on for goals as the main striker this season.
Can he really trust Aleksandar Mitrovic?