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.

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  • Oldgeordie

    First class article. At last someone with the guts the tell it the way he sees it. Managers and professional players often see things differently to we mere mortals BUT surely no one thinks our current set up is working. Perez and Joselu are not doing the business so give someone else (an international striker for goodness sake) a chance.

    • Dan

      Thanks, much appreciated. I agree, it’s unhealthy not to talk about issues as it is for a player/manager to be above that.

      • Headless

        There are various NUFC Facebook sites where you get abused if you dare criticise a Toon player. Tempting to remind them that the domain name “Xisco’s Black and White Army” is still available!

  • Rich Lawson

    If something is glaringly wrong you need to change it,not just persist with the same formation in the hope that it will come right. Mitro’ deserves a start,preffarably with Gayle now we have actually played 4-4-2. So what if he does get sent off,he just becomes unavailable for a team he is not currently being picked for,at least we have offered an alternative and given him the chance to shine as he does for Serbia ? As for the substitutions,they are uninspired and come to late and thus have little impact on the game. What was the match where Sir Bob used all 3 subs at once and totally altered the play ?

    • Dan

      Good point about Serbia 👍🏻 I don’t remember the exact match re sir bobby but if you make changes when it’s not working early on, normally create your own luck in my experience.

  • Headless

    Good article. And thinking about last Saturday and 442, I think we were one disgraceful linesman away from a comfortable and enjoyable home win. Bournemouth would have had huge problems chasing the game from 1-0 down.

    You don’t mind so much when linesmen miss tricky calls but the FA instruction is to keep your flag down if you’re not sure it’s offside. I’d like to know what that linesman was thinking. As we saw on Sunday (and several times before at SJP!) Man City don’t have our problem with linesmen!

    • Dan

      Officials undeniably at fault too 👍🏻 It’s happening too often to be a conincidence

      • Headless

        102 games since a player was red carded against us in the PL….

  • Leicester Mag

    Spot on article, Rafa got it wrong on Saturday. That isn’t a prelude to manning the barricades and calling for Rafa’s head but a balanced reflection on the outcome of some highly questionable substitutions. No one has a monopoly on being right all the time and at present it is difficult not to feel there’s a worrying blind spot and maybe stubborness when it comes to Mitro. That said the absence of a genuine forward line sits fairly and squarely at the door of Ashley. Only surprise today is that his snout isn’t stuck in trough in the Caymans

    • Dan

      💯 in regards to who’s responsible overall and that’s Ashley. He’s always been the biggest cancer at the club

  • Gallowgate1982

    All well and good but the manager decides who plays …my biggest issue is with the people on twitter calling players S#”t on their profiles like Perez and Joselu…MACKEMF#CKWITTERY of the highest order…and as for those that boo’d the team off the pitch theyre just as bad. The manager is entitled to his views as he is the man that is paid to make those decisions based on how people perform in training and what he need to achieve in a match. There is no evidence to suggest that in the current system where the forward has to take up a defensive posture while not having the ball that Mitro would make any difference. What we do know for a fact is that he lacks work rate and he cannot be trusted to get through 90 mins without doing something utterly reckless ala west ham. We are not the type of team who can control the ball so if we lose a player we are Fooked. For that reason Rafa is right not to trust the man. That does not mean he is above criticismn it just means that those who think they know better generally talk out of their ar#e.

    • Damon Horner

      Today’s culture. Totally agree with you. Just in my view you voice your concerns when the team direction looks derailed, not when we lose a game or disagree with a decision.

    • Dan

      That’s fine, he is the man to make the decisions and he can chose who he picks. Have to then be accountable when you’re sustitutions result in the team losing the game. What are your reasons for why we lost control of that game 2nd half especially after the Joselu sub?

  • Paul Patterson

    Exactly the point I was making over the weekend.
    To persist with Joselu and/or Perez is just silly. Even if we start with them two (or with Gayle) going into the last half an hour 0-0 was crying out for Mitrovic.

    • Dan

      Absolutely. I read your article and it was very good Paul. Yes playing 2 up top defo seems the best option to win games certainly at home. We can’t just be sitting ducks like we were in that 2nd half

  • Damon Horner

    I don’t think there is much doubt that he should have come on, he does work well with Perez so I might even have just replaced the forward line.

    • Rich Lawson

      Yes,definitely,ffs someone on here take me out my misery,what was the game where Sir Bob brought on all 3 subs at once ?

      • Damon Horner

        Liverpool in 2002? 2-0 to 2-2 in last ten minutes.

        • Rich Lawson

          Thank you.

    • Dan

      He does. Perez’s only assist this season was to put mitro through vs West Ham. 30 mins game time for mitro this season compared to Joselu’s 722 is simply rediculous.

      • Damon Horner

        I doubt Mitro has had the tactics training with Joselu and Gayle (can imagine it bring done with those 2) so if Mitro is the proven ingredient, get a player on he has good familiarity with.

      • Guest 2

        And a goal in those 30 mins. The Clod’s last goal he never even managed to get the shot off – the defender played it off his leg!

  • ghostrider

    Yep, a good article for sure.
    I can’t even slate Perez and Joselu because Rafa is instructing them to do a lot more of what they’re not set up for than he ever is for what they can effect.
    Basically speaking he’s stifling man y players with his tactics.
    A big strong unit like Mitrovic would give more benefit from scraps we generally serve through Rafa but, as has been said, he should have been brought on as sub.

    Rafa is sucking the life out of this team, slowly but surely.

    • Dan

      Must get credit for trying 442 which I NEVER thought I’d see him play! That gives me hope plus with better players to come in, I’d like to think he can get us playing better footy. Certainly issues but I still hope with better players that might change. Fingers crossed anyway.

      • ghostrider

        I’d be well happy if he gave us that first half mindset against Bournemouth. I’d even accept a mixture of caution when away to the bigger teams.
        He and the team owes it to us as fans to set out as minimum, at home, a balanced team that can also take the game to the opposition just like saturday’s first half.

        This is all I ask and a manager like Benitez should be able to get this squad working like that because whilst it’s not top notch, it’s way better than what we get treated to.

        Imagine that first half being drilled into the players in training so they build confidence from it.
        It’ll turn Mitro and Joselu, plus Gayle into better strikers with better chances and a much better build of confidence throughout.

        It might not win us a boat load of games and catapult us into the higher reaches by him doing it but it’ll do a hell of a lot more than what his set up’s been achieving .

        If he takes a positive mindset of tactics into the harder games coming up, we” do ok from them, I think.
        If he carries on being negative then we’ll end up in the relegation places with a mountain to climb and a squad confidence destruction.

  • 5floorshigh

    Like many I am finding the Mitro situation difficult to understand, also lets not forget the Mbemba situation. It seems once Rafa has made up his mind about a player then that is it. Regarding the trust issue, personally I trust Shelvey less…..case in point was applauding the ref and receiving a yellow then still giving verbals. So we sell Mitro in Jan and enter the market for a quality striker ? a quality striker is going to look at the current set up, game plan and Rafa tactics at Newcastle and very quickly wont fancy the move. We are not an attractive club for quality strikers !…..one thing that is glaringly obvious is that Jos and Gayle will struggle to score in the premiership, the other is (a few ppl on here already hinted at it) I believe Perez links well with Mitro………….We need A Rafa ‘U’ turn, 3 games with Perez and Mitro up front, see how it goes (it cant be any worse).

  • hetonmag

    Absolute dung, this love affair with Mitro just keeps on and on,loads of manager’s on here who think he is the saviour of our team. It’s a good job Rafa doesn’t read the trash that gets posted on here otherwise he would be off like a shot. Can you remember the great Mitro was arguably to blame for us getting relegated the sitters he missed against Everton and Villa spring to mind.

    • Paul Patterson

      Come off it, Wijnaldum turned up for three games that season, Sissoko even less. Coloccini literally checked out of the club mentally, Siem De Jong and Riviere were wastes of space. Mitrovic was innocent in comparison.

  • Steve Pearce

    Rafa will have no other option than to play Mitro as the Clod cannot even grasp the basics of attacking football which is to score goals.

    • hetonmag

      Someone has to create chance’s for the forwards to score.

  • Lager_arm

    At last some sense, his team selection & substitutions were appalling. Couldn’t give a toss if mitrovic is the next Pele or has a leg missing u have to give him a chance when perez joselu & gayle are playing so badly. I’ve been complaining about rafa for a while & for the first time heard others rumbling about him on Saturday. The little tubby fella needs to be careful as we all know round here how quick the worm turns.

  • Steve Pearce

    For Flying Donald Duck’s sake Rafa – can you not realise that Mitro is the only effective striker that we have. Yes you went against the grain with playing 4-4-2 but you went with the Clod alongside Gayle. He might as well have been licking the toilets clean as then he would have at least made a worthwhile contribution. So listen to your fans Rafa for we are the ones who sing your name!

  • Down Under Mag

    I think to blame Mitro’s absence purely on his temperament is a touch naive. I just think it comes down to Rafa either not rating him as a player or not thinking he can cope playing in the formation he wants to play…I personally suspect it has a lot to do with his work rate off the ball and lack of mobility more than his … let’s say overethusiasm at times. I don’t think he’s as bad as suggested but he is a marked man by the refs that is for sure.

    As for the constant claims that he is our best striking option, I am still waiting for proof of this. Now don’t get me wrong, I am a massive fan of the lads attitude and the fact he clearly is desperate to play and score for us, however, in his first season here he didn’t exactly set the scoring records for us so to assume he will come in and suddenly start banging them in for fun is just way off the mark. He IS however worth a shot in the absence of any other options and I think we are all in agreement that the current strikers (Gayle obviously we wait on to see if he has what it takes) just aren’t cutting it and something needs to change.

    I also agree that Rafa got it wrong on the weekend, however he will get it wrong occasionally. The over the top reactions though need to stop as no matter what happened the first two games of the season or the last two games, we are still in a hell of a lot better position than we no doubt would have been had any other manager been at the helm! Let’s not lose sight of that!