Why as much chance of Rafa playing Colback up front v Liverpool as Mitrovic
Since the weekend I have seen any number of headlines/articles asking the question – is Mitrovic back in the Newcastle team on Sunday?
A very strange question for any number of reasons but surely the main one is, why would Rafa be putting him in the team against Liverpool when in his entire 18 months at the club, the United boss has never chose to play him?
When Rafa Benitez came to Newcastle in March 2016, he selected Mitrovic in his first two matches: a 1-0 defeat at Leicester and then the 1-1 draw at home to Sunderland.
Even though Mitro scored the late equaliser against the Mackems, Rafa already had his card marked, only starting the Serbia once in the remaining matches that decided whether or not the Magpies were relegated.
Things got arguably even worse for Mitrovic last season in the Championship, only 11 starts out of 46 league games and Rafa clearly rated even Daryl Murphy higher than the former Anderlecht forward.
Even if you are the 23 year old’s biggest fan, you must appreciate by now that Rafa isn’t one (a fan of Mitrovic).
Starting the season with Dwight Gayle, even when he picked up an injury/struggled, it was £5m bargain/emergency buy Joselu who Benitez turned to.
This season Mitrovic has had only 18 minutes in the Premier League and that came as a late replacement for Joselu against West Ham, Mitro scoring a late goal to make it 3-0 against a Hammers side who had given up.
The narrative of ‘returning to the first team’ doesn’t make any sense, Mitro isn’t a first team player for Rafa Benitez, never has been and never will be.
This doesn’t mean that it is impossible for the striker to be a success in other circumstances and/or at another club but it won’t happen at Newcastle under Rafa Benitez.
The United boss plays a system which demands that the sole striker puts in 100% running, pressurising the defenders and making selfless runs for the team. Whatever Mitrovic’ strengths are, one of them certainly isn’t running around.
He can’t play the role that Rafa Benitez demands, so I would be stunned if the manager considered for a second playing him on Sunday.
It would basically mean him tearing up all of his plans on how he wants Newcastle to play this season.
Yes I understand that Joselu isn’t looking a natural goalscorer and that fans feel Gayle is yet to show he can do it this season BUT that changes little when it comes to the number 45’s situation.
If I was a bookie putting odds up on who would be the lone striker on Sunday, I think it would be even money on both Joselu and Gayle, a toss of the coin, whilst with Mitrovic I would have him something like 50/1 to get the call.
All of this above, is even before we get to the fact that in only 18 minutes of PL action this season, Mitro showed just how ridiculous he is when it comes to professionalism, picking up a stupid three game ban when going out of his way to make contact with Lanzini.
Honestly, there is as much chance of Jack Colback being asked to play centre-forward against the scousers, as there is of Aleksandar Mitrovic being named in the team.
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