Aleksandar Mitrovic.

Even in the Championship when he started only 11 matches (scoring 4 goals) and Dwight Gayle scored 23, there was still only one striker people wanted to talk about really.

It is a bizarre one, maybe it just because we live in a football era where it is all about systems and formations, rather than individuals, that Mitrovic stands out.

Football fans say why don’t we have more characters like the good old days? Then when a ‘character’ does come along, they typically get slaughtered by supporters and fans alike.

The advent of social media in particular, means there is little wriggle room for players being a bit of a larger than life character.

Imagine if George Best had been around now. He wouldn’t have lasted more than a few weeks before the constant circulation of nightclub images would have had the moral majority demanding he was punished for stepping out of line.

Aleksandar Mitrovic hasn’t made headlines via nightclub visits, at least from what I have seen, but he does have the knack of tapping into something with many Newcastle fans. He is ‘interesting’, for want of a better word. He has character, personality, larger than life – supporters like that, well a lot of them do.

With Rafa Benitez not allowed to bring in quality up front last summer, the Newcastle team’s struggles in terms of scoring goals, meant many fans were puzzled as to why Mitro was not given some kind of a go this season.

When your top scorer has only five goals after 29 matches, clearly there is something not quite right.

Aleksandar Mitrovic was a topic brought up at an event Rafa Benitez appeared at last month (see below), the manager explaining (or trying to) why he never started the striker and then loaned him out despite the lack of goals.

Rafa basically said that Mitro didn’t fit his system of trying to keep a tight defence and then quickly counter-attacking. Though he did claim that he WAS playing him this season ‘sometimes for 20 minutes…because I wanted him to score the winning goal’.

Well before he went on loan to Fulham, Newcastle had 25 Premier League matches so far this season and Aleksandar Mitrovic played 89 minutes in total, not many ’20 minutes’ there.

It isn’t any criticism of Rafa, just confirmation that he probably fancies Mitro even less as a player than he lets on.

Arriving at Fulham on loan on deadline day (after first choice Anderlecht revealed at the last minute they couldn’t even afford a loan deal), Mitrovic failed to score in his first three appearances.

However, he has now scored five goals in his next four games.

Predictably this has led to much gnashing of teeth from his NUFC fanbase, questioning Rafa’s decision to loan him out.

People need to calm down. Even if Rafa had kept Mitrovic at St James Park he wouldn’t have played him.

Plus, just because he has scored a few goals in the Championship (just liked Gayle did 23 times last season…) doesn’t mean he would suddenly have scored loads of goals in the Premier League if he’d stayed. After all, whilst he wasn’t a disaster in his first season in England, Mitrovic still failed to hit double figures in the PL in 2015/16.

Nothing wrong with welcoming Mitro’s goals in the Championship AND still being fully behind Rafa’s efforts to keep us in the Premier League against the odds.

The two things can both happen at the same time you know…

Rafa Benitez appearing at an event in February at the Tyneside Cinema organised by The Times – Asked about the wisdom of loaning out Aleksandar Mitrovic:

“Mitro…I have had a lot of conversations with him.

“He needed to play (in the second half of the season), I couldn’t guarantee he would play.

“Some people say: ‘Oh Rafa is stubborn, he doesn’t want to recognise he has made a mistake…’

“No, it is not like this, because if it was like this, I wouldn’t play Mitro at all…

“But I was playing him, sometimes for 20 minutes, why?

“Because I wanted him to score the winning goal.

“People forget one thing.

“For me it is about picking the right team to ensure that we can win.

“Mitro needed to play and I couldn’t guarantee (that) the way that we wanted to play (that he would play).

“If you know Mitro really well…if you do attack and create a lot of chances and crosses, he will score goals, no doubt aboutthat.

“But a team that has 40-45, even 35% possession in some games, you have to defend, you have to play counter-attack.

“If you don’t have all these players who can do that, you have to sacrifice something.

“It is the team, the organisation of the team, if we don’t do that we will be exposed.

“The team is the key and the characteristic of the players are crucial – I have to do the best for both.”

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  • Wor Lass

    “Everybody needs to calm down with Aleksandar Mitrovic.” Practise what you preach!

    • Coach Clagnut

      Good point well made.

  • Paul Busby

    As long as we stay up, Rafa’s decision won’t look so stupid.
    We go down with a crocked last minute striker not having the impact we expected, and Fulham get promoted due to Mitro’s goals, Rafa’s decision to freeze him out the squad will start to look pretty suspect.

    • Coach Clagnut

      No it wont. It’ll be a genius move. He’ll have the experience to score us at least 100 goals and therefore guarantee promotion at the first time of asking.

  • Spider

    I’m sick to the back teeth hearing about Mitro this Mitro that Mitro’s scoring goals for fun. The moral of the story is Mitro’s playing in the championship repeat championship and not the premiership totally different ball game altogether, Gayle was banging them in last season in the championship but can’t do it in the premiership what does that tell people they are not good enough for the step up in leagues.

    • Mitros gotta start

      Clown

      • Spider

        You’re the clown with a logo like yours obviously the truth hurts, you numpty.

      • Lakeland Mag

        Mitro is starting…..for Fulham in the Championship. You can die happy now.

        • Coach Clagnut

          If only we could be so lucky.

      • Kneebotherm8

        You’re the clown buddy.

    • Lhc

      Toss pot, Mitrovic scored 9 premier league goals in his debut season at the age of 21 in a relegated team, given a chance a run of games again he would of done the same and got around 15 goals this season give or take. People like you are one of rafa’s Hoop lickers!

    • Mike Adam

      How can the Rafa appologists have it both ways??? They use the excuse that Rafa didn’t get the financial suport from Fat Mike and we have a team of Championship players. Then when Mitro is scoring 5 goals in 4 starts, they say oh it is just the Championship, not the Premier League. Well, you can’t have it both ways!!!
      What I do agree with is that, after about the first 6 or 8 teams in the PL standings the rest of the teams are really just Championship caliber teams fighting to avoid relegation. So to say that Mitro could not have helped us against those teams is rubbish. In addition, Mitro has scored against almost all of the top six in his career already so for any of you to say that he cannot handle the step up in leagues in absurd!
      There is very little difference between the top 4 or 5 teams in the Championship and the bottom 10 or 12 in the Premier League, IMO.

  • Nut

    Simply put by Rafa and exactly what I have been saying is going on.

    Next season you might see Mitrovic being played if Rafa stays and is given the funds to improve the team enough so that we can dominate the possession and create the chances he needs without putting our potential survival at stake.

    I completely agree with Rafa on this.

    • MichaelMaximusMoose

      He`ll never play under Rafa & if you prefer Joselu then indeed you are a Nut

    • Schön Scheepers

      Hear hear…

  • Anita kick up the Hoop

    What do you mean “calm down”? When a player is bought because of his potential.. sold on our club as the ideal vehicle in which he can develop his raw talent and then after scoring 9 goals as a 21/22 year old in his first season in a new league and in an awful relegation side that he wasn’t even first choice striker in is ignored by our manager until being forced out on loan where he immediately starts to show the exact potential we bought him for THEN the local media with clear direction from the club start questioning his commitment in training and pushing a blatant agenda … where’s the need for calm? .. look at the big picture, we have Joselu, Gayle and Perez plus a crock who had a shocking record at Leicester City before we PAID a fee to take him into our treatment room in January!!! Calm ? If you aren’t asking questions there is something really wrong with you !

    • Mike Adam

      Your last sentence is SOOOO true!!! He was 20/21 in that first season with us.

  • Popnbgd

    First three games he didn’t score because he was coming from the bench in 2nd half and he was out of shape and trying to find his form…As a starter,he has 5 goals in 4 starts…quite impressive!!! On the top of that,he is still very respectful to NU and Rafa and didn’t say one bad word about club or Rafa as a coach…On the contrary,Mitro has complimented Rafa and said he is a good coach…I don’t agree with media trying to bash Mitro and find a flaws in his character…Young lad didn’t deserve it…Rafa should man up and take responsibility for some poor decisions he made…and media shouldn’t pamper him

  • MichaelMaximusMoose

    When it comes to Mitrovich all we get off Rafa is a load of Spanglish Shyte.
    just tell the truth, end of story

    • GlasgowMag

      He has told the truth “40-45% possession sometimes 35% this season” Mitro style of play just cannot be suited to the system Rafa has been forced to play this season due to lack of investment. Also take the Southampton game this weekend. Mitro starts, Southampton players target him for being a hot head, he gets sent off for a reaction we are down to ten men in the most important game of the season. This senerio could easily happen, Rafa also see’s this flaw and this is part of the reason why he doesn’t trust him!!

      • MichaelMaximusMoose

        you must be deaf, he hasn`t told the truth at all, what we get is a load of schitt about Mitro training well but never starts whilst a pile of krap like Joselu does.
        the trust issue is bollix as well ! he hasn`t even had a sniff of a card at Fulham

        • GlasgowMag

          No not deaf I can just see Rafa’s point of view why he cant play him. Regarding his temperament it is clear to anyone with a brain he has a problem but because you are blinded by Rafa hatred syndrome you choose to ignore this fact. PS are you a troll in disguise I heard there was a few that post on this site, come on now let it all out now are you a supporter of the dark side on the wind up lol!!!

          • Mrkgw

            Come on GlasgowMag – just because someone criticises Rafa, it doesnt make them have hatred syndrome nor as some suggest, make them trolls. Rafa is far from perfect and supporters thinking so must therefore be delusional!!

          • Mike Adam

            Exactly, but they need to call us names because we dare to question the Messiah!

          • GlasgowMag

            No need for names and I don’t believe Rafa is the Messiah this is the rubbish you hear in the national press/sky sports. I only look at a manager who has an outstanding record on the world stage and is highly respected by his peers. After our relegation he had set out a plan to build the club up again which was agreed by the fat man. The relationship started well with initial investment mainly covered by the sales of our so called superstars, but since then starting from That January tranfer window our owner has reneged on the agreement with a massive under investment in the playing squad. So basically i will judge Rafa once he gets the investment and really we should be in the WBA position with the players we have but we are not so my advice would be to get behind the team starting from this weekend!!!

          • mentalman

            Shelvey has a worse disciplinary record and still plays

          • Mike Adam

            Lies about discipline continue! He had 4 yellows and 2 reds in his rookie year. Other than that, where is the problem???

          • GlasgowMag

            West ham game this season coasting 2-0 up Mitro 18mins cameo off the bench walks by Lanzini elbows him (saw it myself from the East stand) no reason not sent off but banned 3 games this is why Rafa doesnt trust him!! Yes you are correct no more cards thats because he hasn’t been playing much since that game I wonder why!!

          • Mike Adam

            Excuses, as I have said. As mental has said below, Shelvey much worse record yet he still starts and plays. Have you seen his actions from your perch in the East Stand???

          • GlasgowMag

            Keep to the point Mitro. You had posted he hasnt had a discipline problem since his first season and accused myself and others of spreading lies. I have provided evidence which proves otherwise if you want to reply keep to the subject!!!

          • Mike Adam

            Oh, ok what evidence have you shown? What you provided proves otherwise, it certainly does not. He doesn’t have a discipline problem, was there one last season, NO. Besides a single elbow that you saw from the East Stand, which was not called on the field, there is no discipline problem over almost 2 entire seasons. If we go by your logic Harry Kane has a discipline problem too, it is just that the FA doesn’t have the balls to suspend him after the fact like he should have been once or twice this season.

          • GlasgowMag

            So you are now comparing Mitro with Harry Kane I give up!! I have provided the evidence but you have decided to ignore it, Mitro got a 3 match ban for that game and could of cost us the 3 points that day for no reason. Travelling down for the game on Saturday hopefully a win I’m sure you will agree we certainly need it!!!

          • Mike Adam

            I am not ignoring anything, all that I am saying is one incident in two seasons doesn’t provide proof of a discipline problem. Even his first season, 4 yellows and 2 reds is a fine line between a problem and just a young kid who was trying a bid too hard for his new club. You have to admit there is often not much between a yellow and a red and which one a player receives from an official. A problem is Joey Barton and the 32 cards he saw over three seasons.
            The only point I was trying to make with Kane was comparing how players are treated differently when it comes to bookings. Again you have to admit that if Mitro would have made that tackle on Lejeune back in the first game of the season he would have seen red. It was a straight red type tackle but because it was England’s golden boy, only a yellow. Why didn’t the FA go back and look at that one and give it a red? No balls!!! That was my point, not comparing them as players but how they are treated by officials.

          • GlasgowMag

            I think the reason was the ref saw the incident with Kane so he cannot be punished again by the video evidence but you are correct it was an awful challenge and he should of had a straight red!!

          • Mike Adam

            As you said, lets get 3 points Saturday! Nice discussion my friend, Howay the lads!!!

  • TheFatController

    Lewis Grabban scored 12 goals in half a season in the Championship for that lot at the bottom of the table.

    Now at Villa, yet he can’t get a game at Bournemouth. Who need goals in the PL.

    Or Bamford? He scored again the other night. In the Championship.

    Lots of players not wanted in the PL scoring goals for fun in the championship. Lots of players can be found that scored for fun in the championship and are not able to score in the PL.

    There’s a pattern forming.

    • MichaelMaximusMoose

      he`s scored in the premiership !!!

      • Mrkgw

        Absolutely. How many times must we remind people. He scored one less than Firminho in their respective debut seasons, Mitro scoring nine.

        • TheFatController

          Ah, so he’s like Firmino. The world’s coaches who could have taken the ‘new firmino’ on loan in Jan need to he told, clearly….

          Or are you actually talking about a guy called Firminho, and not Firmino?

          • Mrkgw

            If he is like Firmino then we will need to rely upon Fulham to realise his potential as Rafa was never going to.

            Of course, we really know that comparisons can’t be drawn!

          • TheFatController

            Agreed, firmino would have a field day in the championship- if Bamford gets 7 goals in 4 games and Gayle got about a goal a game, and they definitely don’t compare to firmino…

          • Damon Horner

            Odd one this Firmino argument. He scored a goal every 198 minutes from the wing and Mitrovic scored every 235 minutes from 22 starts upfront.

          • Mike Adam

            Mitro never started 22 times.

          • Damon Horner

            He did. Go to Google and type “premier league official site news and stats mitrovic” – this tells you he made 34 appearances and 12 of them as a sub. The research is easy.

            Second comment being moderated for a website.

          • Mike Adam

            My mistake, you are correct . I always admit when I am wrong. I should learn to check first, I really didn’t think he started that many times. I don’t understand the comparison either, I just wanted him to play for us this season, I believe he could have earned us some points.

        • Mike Adam

          In 11 starts.

      • TheFatController

        So have Dwight Gayle, Bamford, Grabban (I don’t need to use excessive exclamation marks but you carry on, in your drama triangle)

        • Mike Adam

          Gayle has scored 7, 5, 3, and 5 during his 4 seasons in the PL. Bamford has scored “1” PL goal and Grabban the same “1” PL goal.