When Aleksandar Mitrovic went out on loan, Rafa Benitez said ‘Hopefully he will score 20 or 25 goals’.

A little optimistic seen as Fulham had only 17 Championship matches left at the time.

After almost nine months without a league start, the Cottagers eased Mitrovic into the team, starting him with appearances off the bench.

With three goals in his last three games before Tuesday night, Mitro was…on fire.

Against fellow promotion contenders Sheffield United, the Newcastle loan striker has added another two goals tonight.

This makes it five goals in the last 14 days.

In seven appearances since he arrived at Fulham, Aleksandar Mitrovic has helped the West London club get five wins and two draws, lifting them to fourth in the table.

I understand Rafa Benitez’ reasoning about why Mitro doesn’t maybe suit the style he wants/needs to play in the Premier League but I do think it is a fair question to ask why the Serbian only got 11 starts in the Championship.

Tonight Mitrovic scored twice in the first half and almost got his hat-trick in the second, Fulham eventually winning 3-0, the other goal from past Newcastle target Tom Cairney.

3 February 2017 – Rafa Benitez asked about Aleksandar Mitrovic:

“My relationship with him (Aleksandar Mitrovic) is fine.

“He is a nice lad.

“You pick your team and I don’t need to worry about my ego – I have won trophies around the world and I don’t need to be worried about my ego.

“My priority to win games and you pick your team thinking…’This is the best team for me’.

“It was clear that he wanted, and needed, to play games.

“Now he has an opportunity.

“Hopefully he will score 20 or 25 goals.

“We will be happy with that.

“He would have more value.

“He will come here and say…‘I am a new player and you have to trust me because I have scored 25 goals.’

“Fine, no problem.”

  • Monkseaton Magpies

    Given a start in every game in the Championship would get thirty goals plus the Premier League is a different kettle of fish but he will get Fulham up via the play offs.

    • Anita kick up the Hoop

      He scored 9 as a 22 year old in his first season in a new league and in a relegation outfit …. imagine how much you would pay for a lad who had that impact ?

      • Clarko

        *20-21 year old

        • Wor Lass

          Nobody gets past you, lad!

          • Rich Lawson

            We need him in defence then !! (Frank Clarko ?)

        • Peaky Magpie


      • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

        That’s something that is overlooked, he was young in McClarens side, in a team that struggled for confidence in a league that is unforgiving. At 20, it’s hard to break through.

  • X,WHY,Y MAN.

    I think the lad is very effective if the service to him is right and he is used in the correct way.
    Rafa just doesn’t play with that type of striker in his team so Mitro is never going to get a look in.

  • Anita kick up the Hoop

    Wouldn’t you think that a “world class manager” would have gotten the best or even attempted to set his side up to get the best out of the lad? …. we never even paired him and Gayle together for a look in the championship… it’s staggering really

    • Mitros gotta start

      How dare you question our tactical genius….he has won a champions league title!

      • Wor Lass

        Talking to yourself?

  • Mrkgw

    The case in Mitros favour gets ever stronger. Given the lack of firepower at the club, the decision to let him go to Fulham was pure idiocy.

    • Mrkgw

      And to add – makes our club a laughing stock. Reading the many reports out there, the decision is widely viewed as baffling. All on the back of very dull, negative football, bad results, lack of signings (that one falls at Ashleys door). It may well be argued that Rafa is working with a ‘Championship’ set of players but what about Brighton or Huddersfield? Yes, I get the fact that this team won’t win the division but are they really that bad? I’m unconvinced. We need Mitrovic back – 100%. Return Slimani to Leicester as ‘not fit for purpose’.

      The circus at NUFC continues……

  • Mxpx

    I know that alot of these will be championship goals but I’m backing him to score more than joselu gayle and slimani and perez combined this season quite why we couldn’t get him scoring them for us I don’t know

  • Desree

    Had enough of this

    • Dave Mitchison

      Of what Desree?

  • Down Under Mag

    Mitro could possibly score goals but i’m still not convinced he would be prolific in the top flight. Rafa is playing a system to try and keep us in games by tightening up the midfield and the back…which Mitro would not be suited to. he is hungry for goals and as such would be looking to get forward and get on the ball and be caught out of position. He would also require another striker to play alongside which means a total overhaul of team tactics.

    And there is lies the issue – do you let him go on loan and hope he gets back some goal touch so that you can either a) sell or b) use next season while you try and use players to keep things tight who may not score as many goals…or do you change your tactics to accommodate one player and risk being brittle at the back and concede too many goals and still lose games anyway?

    Not saying one or the other is right but both are risks, I just think rafa has played it the safer of the two given the rest of the squad he has available. Perhaps had we some extra quality in the squad who could create more chances and a better overall defensive unit then he may have given Mitro a chance…we will never know, sadly that is all down to one man and it isn’t the player nor the manager!

    • Dave Mitchison

      But we aren’t scoring the goals in any case, so we are still losing and drawing where we should be winning. Losing 1-0 is no different from losing 4-3.

      • Down Under Mag

        You are right, but I just think Rafa is trying what he can to keep us in the division and I am not 100% convinced that things would be any different had Mitro been playing…the lack of plan B seems to stem more from a lack of personnel than lack of tactics…but I get your point…would be nice to see us 2-down and bring on a second striker and go for it…until you factor in more goals conceded would not see us with the potentially relegation saving goal difference we currently have. Loads of pro’s and cons though I get it…

        • Dave Mitchison

          Just a question. Would you prefer to bring on Mitrovich or Joselu if you were chasing a goal or needed to see out a game?

          • Down Under Mag

            In theory Mitrovic every day and twice on Sundays if we were chasing a game as he offers more of a threat, Joselu every time if we are trying to see a game out. Mitro isn’t as good at holding the ball up as some give him credit for and he won’t chase players down and press.

      • 1957

        If points and goal difference are equal goals scored is the next factor…

    • Dave Mitchison

      Also we have no real plan b when we go behind, just more of the same

  • theoriginalbomberman

    That first paragraph of Rafa’s statement last month on the loan deal just goes to show it’s personal between the two. Making a big deal about his ego not needing a check because of past achievements and how that negates him from any critics who suggest he’s making a wrong decision because he won the champions league 13 years ago.

    This is why I dislike him. I’d rather have a less talented manager who puts the club and the players before first than an egotistical know it all who only cares about himself.

    • 1957

      People who find the need to deny ego problems are generally those with the biggest issues. I think you’ll find Benitez never admits he makes mistakes…

  • Dave Mitchison

    If I remember rightly didn’t Brighton want Mitrovich on loan in January. Why didn’t we Lian him out to them? BTW I know what i think the answer is I just wanted to gauge some reasons on here from the Mitro haters.

    • 1957

      There was a rumour, after having a loan offer turned down a PL team came back with a offer to buy which was blocked by Benitez. Mitrovic fell out with one of Benitez minions over this and then developed his back injury.

      Just a rumour maybe but Benitez did state himself he wouldn’t allow Mitrovic to join a rival club. Clearly our CL winning genius was worried Mitrovic might flourish under a different manager in a different style of play

      • Dave Mitchison

        Exactly my theory. If Mitrovich is not a premier league striker then why not loan him out to a rival Club. Surely all he would do would do is. weaken their squad. If you cannot play to his strengths as some on here suggest because you would get mullered then let the rival get mullered as it will benefit us.

        • Mitros gotta start

          Rafa was petrified at being proven wrong….imagine if he would have started knocking them in for fun in the premier league with a coach that knows how to play to his strengths….rafas crown would have slipped then….anyway i dont think making our competition stronger is the best plan either.

        • Damon Horner

          Most know he isn’t completely useless and he could perform for a rival, why create that risk when he doesn’t need to? It’s good for Mitrovic he never went there anyway because Locadia who did go there can’t get in ahead of Murray right now so he’d likely be sitting with Tim.

  • GlasgowMag

    Well done to Mitro but I’m more impressed he is actually staying on the park for 90mins lol!! Just another post to rattle the cages of the Rafa haters. I have more memorys of a young hot head who moved about like a 45 bus and couldnt hit a barn door from 5 yards at times!!! I’m glad he is doing well but my focus is more on the players we have and the make or break game we have at the weekend against Southampton!!

    • Dave Mitchison

      Not a Rafa hater, but blindly following someone and not questioning their decisions isn’t supporting a team it’s buying into a cult.

    • 1957

      My memories are more of a 21 year old who scored 9 goals in a disorganised relegated team, almost the same PL record as Danny Ings when he was at Burnley. Most people on here would have took Ings on loan in January if he was unavailable

    • Damon Horner

      Agreed, like it or not, he is not here. We have a relegation battle and that should be our focus, Mitrovic will always divide opinion among the fans but the real evidence of whether it was a mistake or not is whether we stay up.

    • Rich Lawson

      5 goals,2 yellows,still a good return tho’.

  • Mar Di Vel

    I don’t think, it is a premier league / championchip stuff with Mitar. He also wasn’t playing much last year, when Newcastle had won the championchip. I think it is more the style of play. He needs to get balls into the box. He could also shine at Bayern or Man City or Barca in that role. But as a lone striker, he seems lost sometimes.

  • kingfisher

    Perhaps the reason Rafa didn’t play him was because of his attitude? I would put this question to everyone who thinks Mitro should be playing for us: Ask yourself why he can score goals now at Fulham but not for us? He would be our regular striker if he was that good! So it’s either he’s found his level in the Championship or he just went through the motions up here and was content to pick up his greatly exaggerated pay cheque.
    If a striker doesn’t score regularly then that’s fair enough, that’s down to his skill level, but if, (as all of you Mitro lovers seem to be suggesting) Mitro CAN score regularly, but doesn’t, then that’s even worse and suggests to me is attitude is suspect.
    At the end of the day, Rafa’s the Gaffer and he stands or falls by the decisions he makes !

    • Christopher Edwards

      How can he score regularly for us if he is not played? Even Shearer couldn’t have scored regularly from the bench.

      • kingfisher

        Why play him when he doesnt score? If he had scored as many goals for us in his first few games as he has for Fulham, surely he would have been our number one striker?

        • Christopher Edwards

          He wasn’t scoring because he wasn’t playing!!!!! How can he score from the bench?

      • kingfisher

        It’s a strange one Chris.If he doesn’t score regularly he won’t be selected ,but if he isn’t selected he won’t score regularly.😁

    • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

      Have a look for an audio talk in with the Times, Rafa explains his reasoning for not picking Mitro. It’s an interesting listen.

      • kingfisher

        Cheers Bobbi,I’ll see if I can find it 👍👍👍

        • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

          You’ll need to search Timesplus the game podcast with Alyson Rudd with George Caulkin, Oliver Kay and Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez.

          It’s an interesting listen, I don’t necessarily agree with Rafa’s reasoning but interesting.

  • MadMag83

    Its all about style of play. I think Rafa didn’t play him in the Championship because he wanted to get the team used to playing a certain way l, ready for the Premier League. Fulham may play great football in the Championship, all credit to them for that. But they played good football​ last season but missed out on promotion, would they be able to play the same way in the Premier League or would​ they find it much more difficult?

    Nobody thinks Mitrovic is a bad player, he just doesn’t fit into the system. If rafa walks then he will get his opportunity.

  • Leazes.

    I see Colback is also doing well….

  • HarryHype59

    I am genuinely pleased for Mitro! He is a far better player than the hapless Hoss, who would struggle in the Championship!

    I would recall him now as Slimani looks like a bad signing due to injuries! I am nor saying Mitro is a genuine quality EPL striker. He is better than the options available to NUFC at present!

  • Miroljub Lovadinov

    mitrovic is proven international and premiership striker . period
    mitrovic genuinely loved the club , supported since childhood . period
    mitrovic will score goals elsewhere which he usually do . period
    benitez made his name with extraordinary generation of Liverpool ,
    which at the time can play without coach . period .
    benitez get’s the boot from any team he coached , Real , Valencia , Napoli ,
    because of his control and playing negative football . period
    benitez will destroy club’s chances to be great again .period