The subject of which Newcastle striker should start, comes up pretty much every match.

Each passing week sees online polls show an ever growing support for Aleksandar Mitrovic, with the opposite for Joselu.

Last time out, Rafa Benitez surprised us all. He didn’t go really radical and select Mitrovic but the United boss did choose two strikers to play together.

It very nearly came off as Newcastle were excellent for the first 30 minutes against Bournemouth and decent for the remainder of the half, both Joselu and Gayle had chances to put Newcastle into the lead but it didn’t quite happen, though Gayle was wrongly adjudged offside when he did hit the back of the net.

Last season the pre-match fan polls showed overwhelming support for Mitrovic and Gayle to start every game together but it never happened. Even after combining late on (Mitro off the bench) to turn defeat into victory against Norwich, Rafa refused to give it a try from the start.

Gayle did enough to suggest he is finding his feet at last this season and maybe he will also discover where he left his shooting boots as well soon – but what about Mitrovic?

The thing is, I do get why Rafa Benitez doesn’t pick the former Anderlecht man, he needs/wants his main striker to run and run to ensure Newcastle defend from the very front, never in a million years will/can Mitro do that.

I’ve kind of gone along with that this season, that Joselu was the right choice because he will work and work, hassle the defenders continuously, though you have to at the same time accept  he is very unlikely to score the goals we are desperately short of.

I don’t think this any longer though.

Against Bournemouth, Joselu had at least a couple of very good opportunities and you could just sense the panic. He was shocking.

For all Mitro’s other faults, I think we need a striker on the pitch with a knack for scoring goals, rather than one who has a knack for…not scoring them.

Whilst there were a few more chances created in that last league match, generally Newcastle are struggling to create many in most matches. This makes it even more vital that when the rare opportunities do come along, Newcastle have the best equipped people on the pitch to take advantage.

I wouldn’t care but in his very limited involvement this season, Mitrovic has actually looked relatively sharp.

In his 135 minutes of action for Newcastle, he has also scored twice, stylishly rounding Joe Hart to score, as well as a very decent strike against Forest in the League Cup. Add to that hes scored another couple for Serbia as well since this season kicked off.

In contrast, Joselu had a pretty much open goal against West Ham and almost messed up as he seemed to fall over and thankfully the ball still rolled into the net. Whilst his other goal saw him sent clear against Liverpool and he did totally mess this one up as the Liverpool defender caught him as he dithered and didn’t get a shot away, only for Matip to kick the ball off Joselu and baffle Mignolet in the visiting goal.

Since signing on at St James Park in July 2015, Aleksandar Mitrovic has managed 27 goals for club and country in 59 starts plus 33 as a sub. Say what you like about him but that is a pretty decent effort, especially when most of the time he hasn’t had a run of games to get him into the flow of it.

Since July 2015 he has played exactly 5,400 minutes of football, a goal every 200 minutes, which averages at a goal every other game just about.

If he wants a physical presence on the pitch up front, then Rafa surely has to now go with Mitro and not Joselu, at least until the January window.

It has reached the point where he/we are getting so little out of Joselu, that the Serbian hitman surely can’t make things any worse.

Then who knows, you may have also the added benefit of Joselu finding a bit more form/confidence as an impact sub.

Rafa showed that he is willing to bend/change his ideas with the two up front last match, the next change of mind will hopefully be Mitrovic.

He isn’t the long-term answer but just maybe, he can prove to be the best short-term option Newcastle have.

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  • Rich Lawson

    Yes,give him a start,yet another goal for Serbia,this MUFC defence don’t like being roughed up or hassled by a big lad. Joselu isn’t going to do that to anyone,Mitro’ will,if he proves ineffectual bring him off at half time,but when we expect Lascalles to be more dangerous than our centre forward it’s time to give the lad another chance ?

    • Oldgeordie

      First sensible comment. Good on you Rich.

      • Rich Lawson

        Thank you.

  • MichaelMaximusMoose

    Gayle will improve as he gains fitness, Hoss will never improve he`s another waste of £5m & all these 3 & 5 million Duck Eggs amount to a tidy sum.
    there`s talk of Rafa selling Mitro & Gayle in January well he may as well sell the Hoss & start from scratch.
    keep playing him & chances are we`ll be in the bottom 4 by Christmas

  • Damon Horner

    Obviously my own opinion but I find him slow and predictable – the same his performances have indicated before he got ten times better by not playing and because we cant support Joselu.

    I hope he pursues the Gayle-Joselu route rather than bin it after one game. Frankly as well if we were to get to 65 minutes in a game I’d be more comfortable knowing the opposition would be going against a Mitrovic with manager instruction rather than a Joselu with not enough. aggression.

    Let’s not overlook his run of international goals will likely have come with more accommodating tactics and against nations like China, Georgia and Moldova.

    I’ve got nothing against playing him but don’t be surprised if it is similar in terms of impact to what we’ve seen.

    • 1957

      It’s a bit of a generalisation to suggest he only scores against poor international teams, two of his six in the World Cup qualifiers were against Wales semi finalists in the last Euros.

      Not a long term solution but surely worth a try with Gayle, given the alternative of the mighty Hoss, until we can buy in January.

      • Damon Horner

        Just a viewpoint that most defenders who play against him from the start will have him worked out and he can dominate defenders who aren’t quite at the top. I’m not playing him down, just playing down the assumption those international goals
        is an answer to our goalscoring issues, it’s naïve to assume that.

        We just need to have a way to win games and his impact from the start for me won’t be much more than Joselu whereas he can be so much more damaging from the bench and no defender in the world will worry if Joselu is coming on.

        If Rafa looks at two up top and feels Gayle/Joselu can get results then I wouldn’t blame him for persevering.

        Straight pick between them I’d play Mitrovic over Joselu right now but starting Mitrovic takes away a plan B, I also think Perez works well in close quarters with his strike partner as well so I Mitro starts it should be with Perez.

        • 1957

          Benitez as manager can basically do what he wants selecting his team, it doesn’t mean however I would agree with him, especially when it comes to the Hoss.

          Mitrovic isn’t a long term solution for me but Benitez can’t wait until January to try something different to the toothless attacking force we have now. Mitrovic may do no better than Hoss, unless he plays we’ll never know. Playing Devil’s Advocate if he did play and scored a few goals, it would make selling him harder to justify…

          • Damon Horner

            The level of politics is a bit of an unknown but you are right, if he plays and performs it would be baffling to fans and “experts” alike that he is up for sale. You also don’t know what kind of a message he is sending the board over what happened in terms of summer recruitment by playing Joselu “he’s all I could afford and this is what happens”, I like Rafa but would put neither past him.
            Mitrovic himself has been known to have a fluctuating fitness level (lack of running maybe down to fitness rather than desire at times) so there is an element of what the data is saying which could be important to his selection, Shelvey’s been the same in his career, if that is the case it won’t be obvious to the public, just speculative.
            Mitro still looks like raw potential to me and he could use his physicality much more effectively which is also partly down to coaching, just looks like no love from the management.

  • Wor Lass

    That`s a fair summary, Joe. Rafa is famously stubborn but – to paraphrase a well-known saying – “if it`s broken effing well fix it!”. I don`t expect him to start Mitro against Manure but he should definitely be on the bench and brought on around the hour mark (assuming we`re not 5-0 up with the Hoss sweating on a double hat-trick).

  • Gallowgate1982

    Pretty much every professional associated with NUFC agrees that Mitro is not up to the job including the most important professional in Rafa…yet a twitter nonce thinks they’re all wrong and twitter knows best!!

    • Wor Lass

      So who IS up to the job? No-one that`s playing at the moment, evidently.

      • Gallowgate1982

        precisley so january market is key

        • Wor Lass

          In the meantime ….? It`s November now, you know.

          • Gallowgate1982

            I’m aware of the month thank you. The seeds were sown on this half of the season when the purse was taken away when Ashley decided to sell up and preventing Rafa from signing the players he wanted which is well documented along with Rafa’s unhappiness at this. This means having a tougher time of it . It does not mean putting a player in the team who is incapable of doing the job or even worse that the same player is a risk to every single result because of his lack of self control. Think back to the transfer window and think about how unhappy Rafa was …suddenly it became ok? why? Because Ashley told him he was selling and this is why he would not heavily invest..from then Rafa piped down and got on with the job. What you are seeing now is that with a few injuries we have a pitiful squad. If the club is sold then this needs to be remedied in January and the summer. Its just 3 weeks since everything was rosy because we were sneaking wins. You cannot expect anything to change from September the 1st to November (in case you didn’t know what month it was) when the squad is the same but the players who make us tick (Merino) are injured.
            Unfortunately you will have to accept the fact that we are not going to win every game until we have the squad to match who we are playing and still then we will not win every game much less score in every game. Short termism is an illness that needs cured judging byTwitter and the people on these type of sites. What should happen is instead of whining about why Mitro is not playing because he beats his chest and dances on the pitch when you sing a song, instead you should be giving full support to the team and not booing them off the pitch when they lost a close game 1-0. Then you need to look to the future and see what a difference Rafa has made to the absolute charlatans that relegated us to the strong and together team we have now and imagine what could be achieved if he is given funds in the future. As an NUFC fan you really need to learn some patience. I have supported the team since the 70’s and I am still waiting to see a trophy. We have had little spells of excitement in that time. I hope in 40 years time you have something to remember such as a trophy or the Barcelona, Man U and cup semi final games from your time as a fan…but don’t hold your breath!!

          • Wor Lass

            So we`ll just continue to flog a dead Hoss, then?

          • Geordiegiants

            Mitro is a dead horse as well. Rafa can see a different quality in Joselu that we don’t, that’s why he is manager and not the fans.

          • Wor Lass

            I`m not saying Mitro`s the answer – there`s a lot wrong with him – but he`s scoring regularly for Serbia and what we`re going with at the mo isn`t working. We need to change it up and see. If he bombs then saddle up the Hoss again

          • Geordiegiants

            There is obviously some thing we don’t know about Mitro. I think he is shyte, but I also think that it’s worth a change now and again, so there has to be an underlying issue that Rafa doesn’t like.

          • Wor Lass

            I think him and Mbemba must be taking turns to wear the “Rafa is a W*nker” T-shirt!

          • Geordiegiants

            It’s got to be attitude or application. They possibly just don’t listen.

          • Gallowgate1982

            I think he does very little in training and as such along with his self control issues then becomes unselectable. Rafa has built a strong team spirit and it all stems from giving ecerything at work everyday. If you do not fill that criteria you wont be picked. For both Mitro and Mbemba I think this could well be why.

          • Wor Lass

            I`ve been supporting the team since the 60`s but that doesn`t actually mean anything. I also have never ever booed the team off – I didn`t even join in when Moussa the Great was booed off against Bournemouth even though he really deserved it. I don`t expect us to be winning trophies at the minute – just fighting to stay up, which the lads are doing. I love Rafa and admire the work he has done with the resources he has been given. I also said on a thread some time ago that the reason he must have decided to stay after being hung out to dry in the usual fashion by Ashley, Penfold et al was that he had been tipped the wink that the club was going to be sold. So we agree on a lot of things. All I`m saying (not whining) is that Mitro is an option that Rafa should take up – despite his obvious flaws – because, “if you alwwaays do what you`ve always done you`ll always get what you`ve always got”. That seems appropriate under the present circumstances.

    • Toon Fan

      To be fair, nobody associated with NUFC rates him cos we haven’t seen him at his best, other than a few fleeting performances. Given his reputation before he joined us, his goal record at his previous clubs and his recent goal record with the national team, surely he’s got more to give than we have seen so far in a Toon shirt? Just look at the goals he has scored for us already, most of them of decent quality. If he could score more consistently for us then surely he could make a valuable contribution. We’ll never get to see if that’s the case cos he won’t get a consistent run in the team. Shame.

  • Geordiegiants

    Boring! Can we please ban these Mitro love in articles? He is shyte, pure shyte, and utter shyte. Leave it alone and let Rafa do his job.

    • Damon Horner

      This will be a theme, it’s bemusing why his lack of opportunity makes him a better player all of a sudden, his last international goal was against China…

  • S.G.M.

    He should start him. What’s to loose? nowt.

  • Steve Pearce

    Surely even Rafa can see that The Clod is the worst striker in the Premiership and that Mitro is the only alternative. So let’s see a 4-4-2 line up with Mitro alongside Gayle and we might actually come away from Old Trafford with three points.

    • 1957

      I’m not sure Benitez would play Mitrovic whatever the situation, but sticking with the Hoss until January, when we might get an upgrade, is a high risk gamble. Sometimes you just have to try something different.

  • Viru leckworth

    The point everyone is missing is- Mitro is on every ref’s radar. He will get away with nowt. And when the rough stuff is taken away from him, he has little to offer.