With seven goals in his last five games, Aleksandar Mitrovic has been a massive hit at Fulham.

Thankfully, the Serbian’s loan move has also coincided with improved Newcastle form.

Newcastle, with the help of their own loan signings (Dubravka and Kenedy, Slimani yet to be sighted…) have played five times since the transfer window ended and with two wins and two draws, have improved to 13th place and five points clear of relegation.

Despite the Newcastle results, it hasn’t stopped media and some supporters still questioning the wisdom of Rafa Benitez’ decision, taking as proof that his Fulham form shows that loaning Mitrovic out is a mistake.

With not a single start this season and only 11 in the Championship last campaign, Rafa has made it clear Mitrovic doesn’t fit his idea of what he wants up front.

However, even when Mitro recently said Fulham played a better style of attacking football than Newcastle, the United boss didn’t bite (see below), just saying that statistics and ending up as champions last season tells everybody the reality.

Interesting then to see somebody being a little less diplomatic than Rafa Benitez, Ian Ladyman of The Mail being pretty savage with regard to Aleksandar Mitrovic.

The respected journalist declaring: ‘Those who say Rafa Benitez missed a trick by not using him at Newcastle are wrong. Benitez thinks that Mitrovic is a Championship striker and is being proved exactly right.’

Whilst I’m not totally convinced by Mitro’s credentials at the top level, I don’t think I agree either with the Journo’s point.

Rafa hardly played the striker in the Championship so it hardly suggests that the manager wants to play him at all, whatever the division.

Closer to the point is that I think Rafa demands workrate above all else and doesn’t appear to believe that Mitrovic was able/willing to do that in the lone striker role, although with Fulham fans raving about the striker’s running and effort as well as goals, maybe Mitro is now determined to prove the Newcastle boss wrong.

Maybe this is also the case with Jonjo Shelvey, whereas he could coast through the Championship without really breaking sweat due to his passing ability, possibly only in these recent games has the penny dropped that to really succeed in the Premier League, and in Rafa’s eyes, he has to do an awful lot more on the pitch than he had been doing.

A win/win for Rafa Benitez and both Shelvey AND Mitrovic at the moment, an interesting summer ahead when decisions have to be made on who Rafa Benitez buys and sells.

Aleksandar Mitrovic lines up for Fulham today (Saturday) at home to QPR with a 12.30pm kick-off, as always Newcastle fans (and Rafa?) will be keeping an eye on how he gets on.

Ian Ladyman writing in The Mail:


“The Serbian has scored seven goals in five games on loan at Fulham as the London club make a strong dart towards promotion.

“But those who say Rafa Benitez missed a trick by not using him at Newcastle are wrong.

“Benitez thinks that Mitrovic is a Championship striker and is being proved exactly right.”

Rafa Benitez – 12 March 2018:

“There are two ways to analyse this.

“One is – Mitrovic is scoring goals in the Championship.

“It’s good news for him and us.

“Two – Mitrovic is playing before the World Cup and he is our player.

“We then have to discuss his future in May.

“In May we will then see, and if he is doing well, then fine no problem.

“It is not about style…we were the best team in the Championship and had an offensive style.

“We scored 85 and conceded 40. We were the best team bar none.

“We had more shots on target than anyone else and we were second on crosses.

“So everything was there in place.

“We were an attacking team and Dwight Gayle got 23 goals, even with two months out injured.

“Nobody can complain about our attacking style, as we had Gayle, Ritchie and Atsu.

“You can see the numbers.”

Rafa Benitez asked about Aleksandar Mitrovic at start of February after the striker joined Fulham on loan:   

“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.”

  • Mrkgw

    Have to say Jackie, that I also disagree with that Mail journalists point of view. You are right in that Rafa did not play him much at all. Had he done so, then we may have been in a better position than we are right now in terms of goals. Yes, I’m one of the pro Mitro brigade but lets face it, he is better than Joselu and arguably Gayle albeit, they both offer something different which is why Mitro should never have been farmed out in the first place!

  • Paul Patterson

    He’s found his level and we are doing better in recent weeks without him. That’s all that matters.

    • Anita kick up the Hoop

      He’s 23 you fool

      • Paul Patterson

        And at 23, the Championship is his level . .

        • Anita kick up the Hoop

          No .. because he’s already scored goals (9 of them) at premiership level as a 21 year old in his first season in a brand new country and in a relegation season… He’s a proven premiership player infact!

    • thewildchimp

      Well, we were doing sh’t without him in the first half of the season. What’s your point?

    • Natturner26

      I can’t believe six idiots liked this doing better without him comment. We were never with him this season he didn’t play.

      • Anita kick up the Hoop

        So many sheep

    • Mike Adam

      We have been shut out 12 times this season!!! And our manager continued to march out the same two stikers who can’t score match after match expecting different results, that is “insanity”. Especially when there was a third option on the bench who could be played, and who has pretty much scored at every level he has been given steady playing time.

  • Anita kick up the Hoop

    The big, huge, massive difference is the that’s Gayle and Joselu are proven over their careers to be nothing better than third rate forwards .. in their late 20’s they have peaked beneath the top level.
    Mitrovic is 23 and was bought because he has potential…, he isn’t the finished product BUT he’s already a proven international striker and has scored goals consistently at every level… his future is still full of promise and given the fact that our club persuaded him to sign for us on the basis that the was the beast place fir his development it seems silly that a section of our support and a large change chunk of the Rafa bedazzled media seem intent on running the lad down in order to prove Rafa right at the expense of the player and the club … why don’t we see articles hoping that the 23 year old prospects comes good and becomes a NUFC hero ? … it’s baffling.

  • TheNutJob

    So`s the Hoss but the Spanish Donkey has played over 20 games for Nufc.

  • East Durham Mag

    Didn’t we have this last week or the one before with exactly the same quotes? Its getting tedious. Which by the way i said then as well.

    • Kneebotherm8

      The tediousity is breeding tediousity…..

      • East Durham Mag

        🤣🤣 yup

  • ghostrider

    It’s pointless any journalist or any manager slating Mitrovic or putting down his ability.
    Let’s put it into simple context.
    Ask Fulham fans what they think.
    Then ask yourself what happens to players who start banging goals in like this. Anyone know?

    What generally happens is, a premier league club start looking at him and then try to lure him away with big bids.

    So another simple thing is, he’s a championship player at the moment because he’s playing championship football.
    Bring him back to Newcastle right now and play him and he will become a bonafide premier league football striker and prove it, in my honest opinion.

    There’s not one person who is being honest could say that Joselu is a better striker or stronger player or better holding up the ball or bullying defenders, etc than Mitrovic. And we all know that if played, Mitrovic would have scored a good amount of goals in the right system.

    The issue is, Joselu does something better than Mitrovic. He’s willing to sacrifice his small striker potential in favour of a cautious type role, something I’d hazard a guess at, that Mitrovic wasn’t willing to do and has faced the consequences of those actions.

    It makes more sense to me.

    • Danimal

      Andy Thomas. Six goals in three games. Never before and never since. Don’t worry, he’s about 55 now, so Ashley probably won’t sign him, not even on loan.

      • ghostrider

        We’re not dealing with Andy Thomas.

      • Jezza

        I remember Michael O’Neill scoring something like 8 in 5 early on in his Newcastle career and we all thought he was going to be the next Supermac but he soon went right off the boil and never recovered that prolific goal scoring touch.

        • Dillon Tovak

          Cisse too.

  • X,WHY,Y MAN.

    If that is the case then why didn’t he have loads of starts last season in The Championship ?

    • MichaelMaximusMoose

      Rafa doesn`t like him, he prefers a heap of shyte like Joselu

      • Mark Davies

        At least joselu runs around. You may have missed that from your non attending bedroom mackem moose. Not saying hes good but you have issues young un

    • Paul Smith

      Because Gayle was scoring every week up until he got injured and when Mitrovic did come into the team (normally due to Gayle being injured or a heavy schedule) he didn’t match or better Gayle’s standards.

      • X,WHY,Y MAN.

        So Gayle was scoring goals, That’s all fine and dandy.
        The heading of the article is whether Mitrovic is a Championship striker.
        So what your saying is he wasn’t even up to the standards of The Championship ?

  • Whickhamrobbie

    Watching the Fulham v QPR game now .
    Sorry changed my mind but Mitro is Not Prem standard .
    Good first 10 mins then poor walking about disinterested.

    • Damon Horner

      What happened at the end of the match?

      • MichaelMaximusMoose


    • Dillon Tovak

      I’m not joking, I watched less than 5 minutes and saw Mitro have a dust up, handbags etc and get a booking.
      I’m a fan but he is what he is, I fully back Rafa’s judgement.

  • Wor Monga

    Fulham aren’t up yet…they scored 85 goals last season and they’re a team that made the playoffs last season and were only eliminated in the semis…Cairney and Sessegnon have proved they are real class mid field players in that division…

    …From that it’s fair to say that they should be dominating most of the teams around them, and from what I’ve seen of them when Mitro scores they are around the opposition box in high numbers, and any big striker in the middle of it all would find it pretty hard not to get a goal from some of the efforts being put towards him…Mitrovic would be no exception there…

    …That doesn’t happen much for most teams in the PL, and if Fulham come up I doubt very much they’ll have the same sort of freedom in the opposition box, and Mitro would be expected to work a lot further back, and cover more ground for his goals…

    …that’s what Rafa expects, and demands from the players he trusts, and he picks those he trusts…EOS!!!

    • Natturner26

      “from what I’ve seen of them when Mitro scores they are around the opposition box in high numbers, and any big striker in the middle of it all would find it pretty hard not to get a goal from some of the efforts being put towards him…Mitrovic would be no exception there…”

      Strange then big Rui Fonte’s 3 goals in 1365 minutes.

    • MichaelMaximusMoose

      Yeah, well he wants to sort Joselu out, but mark my words he`s another
      Duck Egg in a long list of them

    • Popnbgd

      Rafa said this,Rafa said that…You are not competent to give opinion because you don’t have one…Your logic is flawed and your football knowledge mediocre,at best

  • gallowgate26

    Oh look Fulham only drew and Mitrovic didn’t score. No need for the Mag to write an article about him today then…. o_O

    • paul mclaughlan

      Too late they did.

  • molend

    If he scores twenty goals between now and the end of the season, there’ll be people here saying he’s rubbish. Why don’t we just wait and see what he does in the World Cup? I personally hope he does well, but if he’s not up to it, then it’ll be apparent

    • Geordiegiants

      It’s already apparent.

  • ToadHoleJoe

    Mitrovic is our best striker, why can’t people see that??!? Regardless of how hard somebody works off the ball, regardless of how quick someone is, Mitrovic has time on his side and WILL improve, whereas Joselu and Gayle have already peaked and both found their levels. Both would never hit more than 10 goals a season in the premier league , Mitrovic could potentially hit 12-15 on current form and his level ( as his level now ). If we let him go , there’s no doubt in my mind he’d score goals and his value would soar. We would lose out again, lose – lose.

    • Dillon Tovak

      I think there is no doubt Gayle is better, he scored 23 in pretty much half a season in the championship.
      Neither are really who you want starting in the Prem though.

      • Geordiegiants

        Bang on!

  • stevetoontoon

    Gonna get slaughtered here but rafa says he doesnt fit in….. doesnt do enough in training and the backroom staff all agree…personally i like mitro but i really trust rafas judgement more!!! So hes gone on loan good luck to him hope he is the man that puts sundlind doon and hes still a toon player afterall

    • Popnbgd

      Rafa said this,Rafa said that…You are not competent to give opinion because you don’t have one

      • stevetoontoon

        Point is…… rafa dont rate him…. back room staff agree…. i like him personally…. mitros gone….. hope he scores against mackems puts them doon…. and hes still on toon books………. blah blah blah rafa said this rafa said that blah blah

  • Mxpx

    If the logic is mitrovic is more successful in the championship than the Premier league then surely that’s a given the difference between mitrovic and our other strikers is that he has been somewhat successful in the Premier league already in his only season in the league gayle has failed several times and joselu has no chance… Adam Armstrong may be a better option than these two but time will tell still this is beyond lazy from the mail and shouldn’t be taken too seriously as well mitrovic is more successful in the championship than the Premier league well that can also be applied to rafa is he a championship manager?

    • Popnbgd

      In his first season,at the age of 21,he has scored 9 goals in 21 appearances…Same number as Gayle and Joselu combined this season in 27 games….

  • Popnbgd

    Very sloppy journalism….and Rafa is a bad liar…He definitely has an unhealthy ego…He has repeated it twice “I don’t need to worry about my ego”…First sign of lying…The way I see it,Mitro was brought to NU at very young age(21) and was considered like an investment for future as a striker with a great potential,strength and goal instinct…Initial plan was to work hard with lad,to give him a playing time and to develop his skills and possibly,in a future to make big buck of him…Rafa spent 5M on Joselu,who is 26 and who might score 2 sitters and lucky deflection in 25-30 games….at best…Rafa has no valid reason for leaving him out and all of those pathetic stories about gps statistics and other reasons are laughable….but Rafa and Joselu are buddies and knowing each other since Rafa’s time in Real…Very poor decision

  • Philippines

    I watched Fulham live last night here in the Philippines. Mitro’s work rate was great and he played some great ‘one touch’ passes. He was also not far away from scoring, just beaten to the ball by the goalkeeper. At the end of the day, time will tell. Having said that, players want to play and as he seems to be enjoying Fulham so much, would he be content to sit on the bench again at Newcastle? Mitro and a QPR player were both Yellow carded for what the ref saw as a 50-50 situation. I thought Mitro was actually the innocent party in the tussle.

  • StevieB

    We never played to his strengths at any time so it’s pointless judging what he was and wasn’t at Newcastle. It’s like playing peter crouch on the shoulder of the last man then dropping balls in behind which he inevitably won’t get to due to his lack of speed then turning round n saying he’s rubbish 🤔
    Whip consistent crosses into the box then judge them type of target men.

  • Phil Yare

    ok, so if we sent joselu to fulham he would have scored as many or more goals than mitro??! i don’t think so!

  • HarryHype59

    Mitro may well be Championship standard! However the same can be said of Gayle. Hoss, is league 1 level.