Positives on the pitch for Newcastle United have come few and far between this season, particularly in front of goal.
Chance after chance seems to go begging week after week in games where Newcastle should be claiming points, but failing to do so.
Over the Christmas period, clashes with Aston Villa, Everton, Arsenal and Watford (FA Cup) saw Newcastle fail to capitalise on strong performances by failing to score enough (if any) goals to win the games.
A lot of criticism was directed at Aleksandar Mitrovic, a 21-year-old (20 when he signed) whose shoulders had to bear almost the entire weight of the club’s expectations when it came to scoring goals.
In the previous encounters mentioned, and more, the lad was guilty of failing to take good chances, ultimately costing the side much-needed points.
He’s endured a somewhat frustrating start to life at Newcastle, with his fair share of critics stating more work should have been done to bring in a proven Premier League goalscorer in either of the past two windows, at the Serbian’s expense.
At Goodison Park last week, Newcastle were run ragged by an average Everton side. With the score at 1-0, the ball falls to Mitrovic in the box, and with the goal at his mercy he smashes a volley wide of the post.
Social media seemed to go into meltdown after “Miss-trovic” failed to convert another glorious chance.
Despite all the criticism, I’d say it’s hard to argue that Mitrovic isn’t a star in the making for this club.
I was thrilled to see the lad bounce back to be the matchwinner on Saturday afternoon.
In almost every game I’ve watched Newcastle play this season, Mitrovic seems to give the side a purpose. He’s able to win the ball, hold it up, and allow the more ‘technical’ players around him to flourish.
Newcastle always seem to have much more of an idea of what they’re doing when Mitro leads the line, the recent defeat to Everton was a prime example of that.
Yes, he wasn’t able to get the goal to bring us back into the game (which he really should have done), but without him Newcastle were bereft of ideas, without a focal point in their side, so to speak.
The only away game I’ve attended this season was our first, away to Swansea. The game was lost within the first half when we found ourselves both a goal and a man down.
Mitrovic entered the play with the scoreline at 2-0. There was never any hope within the away end for us to get back into the game, but immediately after Mitrovic was brought into the game, you could instantly see more threat in the team – even with 10 men.
As well as all of that, the passion he brings with him into every game is a joy to behold for all Newcastle supporters. The way he celebrates his goals and tries to get the crowd going, even when things aren’t working out so well for him he still gives his all for the cause.
I’m sure I wouldn’t be wrong in saying each and every fan loves the guy, if not, at the very least has a huge soft spot for him.
At the age of 21, he’s got plenty of time ahead of him to work on being more clinical. With him in the team, chances always arise, they just need to be taken. In time, I can see the guy scoring a lot of goals for Newcastle United.
After 25 league games, Mitrovic has 5 goals. Yes, it’s not a scintillating return. But remember a certain Alan Shearer? It took him a hell of a lot longer to score his first 5 Premier League goals at that age!
Hopefully Saturday’s match-winning performance was just what Mitro needed, because as much as I believe he will come good, our position means he needs to do so sooner rather than later.
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