He might have only started six of Newcastle United’s 30 Championship matches but it is very difficult to ignore Aleksandar Mitrovic.
Those half dozen starts have seen the former Anderlecht striker score four goals which have helped bring about wins against QPR, Preston and now, Wolves.
The Mitrovic contribution on Saturday teatime was to not win a header, hardly get a kick, picked up a yellow card for nothing and then was involved in a challenge for a ball inside the box when he caught the keeper, leading to the Wolves fans and Sky Sports pundits to wet their pants in wanting him to get a red card.
In truth, Mitrovic had also been starved of both service and support in that first half and it was ironic that after all that had gone before, a corner wasn’t cleared and the ball eventually ended up at his feet five yards from a gaping goal.
A match winning strike and after the game, NUFC’s number 45 revealed what had been said at half-time.
Mitrovic says that Rafa Benitez ‘did smart’, taking him to one side and telling the forward that he was now going to sit on the bench because there was too much pressure on the referee and a second yellow was very much on the cards.
Aleksandar Mitrovic talking to NUFC TV:
“I think a big win, a big three points.
“Hard, tough away game and go home with three points – we showed good mentality, hard work and we deserved to win.
“We always know we will get one or two chances, I try to stay focused and I scored, so I am happy.
“I have a very tough period behind me, injured for a few weeks and I am back slowly – but I hope I will keep playing and keep scoring goals, plus help my team to get goals.”
‘Involved in a bit of controversy, was the ball just there to be won?’
“I score a goal and get a yellow card…but I don’t want to speak about that. My opinion is that it wasn’t a yellow card…
“We speak in the dressing room at half-time and the gaffer says it will be better if I stay on the bench second half because there is a lot of pressure on the referee and could be a chance to get a second yellow.
“So I think he (Rafa Benitez) did smart and he did it well.
“This is the place we want to be and where we want to be at the end of the season.
“Now we have to continue working hard and we have tough games the next few weeks against top five or six teams.”
‘Next is Norwich and you have three goals in two games against them?’
“Yes, another hard game.
“They are in good shape and I think four or five games they are winning.
“They are in good shape but we will be going there to try and win.”
(To read the instant Newcastle fan/writer reaction go HERE)
(To see the interactive Newcastle v Wolves player ratings and to add your own go HERE)
(To watch the winning Mitrovic goal go HERE)