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Opinion

Being ‘balanced’ does not exclude criticism of Rafa’s substitutions

1 year ago
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Something quite unique happened on Saturday.

It wasn’t that Newcastle slumped to a 1-0 defeat at home to a side in the relegation zone after a toothless display, or that there was a difference of opinion to the reason for it.

It was undeniable that the referee was appalling – there was the injustice of Gayle’s offside goal which clearly impacted the game. Infuriating that they are, unfortunately we/Rafa cannot influence these things. Which brings me to the point in hand..

I’ve never been a fan who slates a manager, or player, for that matter. I would consider myself balanced in my opinions, yet certain players and in this case, Rafa, was put beyond criticism by many. Clearly his substitutions impacted on the result of the game, you don’t have to be an elite coach to have noticed that, it was blatantly obvious.

The reality is, if Pardew or any other manager we’ve had in recent years had made those same mistakes, I can guarantee you fans would not be leaping to the manager’s defence, especially when the small piece of criticism was so clearly justified to anyone who watched the game.

Rafa’s stubbornness not to introduce Mitro, meant that Newcastle were playing long balls to strikers who would have been more comfortable handcuffed to the arm of a drunken stag than competing for high balls with premier league defenders.  Clearly we needed a focal point, a target to hit, yet that solution was ignored.

We lost control of the game after this point with the Cherries dominating possession, pouring forward more and more, pressure leading to them hitting the post and ultimately scoring the winning goal. Some fans would have also noticed the mismatch from the corner which saw Perez competing against Cook before the later buried his header past a helpless Elliot in goal.

Which brings me on to Mr Mitrovic.

Now he may not be the long-term answer for Newcastle’s striking problems, and he is a hot head, but he is most certainly this as well…

He IS our best option of the three strikers, his goal and assist ratio in the premier league delivering in every 1.7 games compared to Gayle’s 2 games and Joselu’s 2.4 games, proves that. What is also quite clear now I think to most fans, and indeed Rafa, is that Gayle cannot play as a lone striker in the prem, hence starting with a 4-4-2 for the first time since arriving as manager at the club.

We do not play on the front foot like we did in the Championship and often the striker is isolated and needs to be able to retain possession. The other option is Joselu, who simply is not good enough.

Based on a comparison between Joselu and Mitro’s output, we would score almost five more goals playing Mitro over Joselu in the 27 remaining matches. Using Joeslu’s stats this season compared to Mitro’s prem minutes, he produces every 4 games which would result in us scoring 9 less goals. Considering how few we conceded, it’s hard to argue this number isn’t significant.

What also boils my juices is this general assumption that the lad is past redemption, he’s a nutter who cannot be controlled. Well I’m sorry, but to write a player off before attempting to resolve these issues, isn’t good enough.

After Shelvey was sent off after a kick at Alli, he was given a slapped wrist and some therapy, before being introduced straight back into the team. Why are two players with the same issues being treated differently and why does one not get a chance to earn the ‘trust’ back?

It’s a question that needs answering because the reality is we need him until replacements can be brought in, whether you admit it to yourself or not.

You can follow the author on Twitter @Dan Snowden
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