Sorry, another Aleksandar Mitrovic article. I can’t help but add my own opinion to the stacks of articles and comments that have been published over the last few seasons and especially in recent months.

I almost wrote an article after the 4-1 victory over Preston North End, that saw us confirm promotion, last season. Don’t get me wrong, Gayle was fantastic last season and should be regarded as our star striker in that Championship year – but I felt Mitrovic was getting a lot of stick at the time for not being mobile enough, having poor hold up and link up play and inefficient finishing.

Watching that vital win against Preston, though, I felt Mitrovic led the line fantastically well. He won everything in the air, bringing players into the game with headers and chest downs. It was a slick through ball from him, on the counter, that gave Atsu the opportunity to put us 2-1 up.

This season Mitrovic hasn’t had many opportunities in a Newcastle shirt. I accept that he can be his own worst enemy. What he was doing when he borderline assaulted Lanzini to get a retrospective ban is anyone’s guess. This certainly isn’t the only example of him losing his discipline but that seemed to be the moment that really put paid to his likelihood to get a game.

He’s got plenty of critics. There’s those who say he’s a liability and Rafa doesn’t trust him, others say he’s simply not good enough. But is he really worse than Joselu?

I’m one of those people that half the fanbase mock. I admire his passion and actually believe he’s a pretty decent player. He’s still young and, if recent events are anything to go by, has still got the potential to become a real threat.

So, onto current times.

As everyone is aware, Aleksandar Mitrovic is plying his trade at Fulham now. There’s a couple of stories on how this came about. One is that he received a text from Slavisa Jokanovic asking if his Anderlecht move had gone through. It hadn’t and on deadline day Mitro headed to West London to join his compatriot. The other story is that it was Mitrovic who texted Jokanovic speculatively, as he flew back from Belgium and his failed loan, and the Fulham boss agreed to take him on.

What has happened since has caused plenty of debate.

He’s scored 10 goals in 14 games (12 starting, 2 from the bench), 5 goals in his last 6 home appearances and Fulham have been unbeaten with him in the team. Championship or not, that’s impressive stuff. I’ve seen some of his goals this season too and they’ve not all been tap ins or headers. He’s scored some great goals; shots outside the box, clinical finishes to conclude excellent moves. He’s been doing the same with Serbia over the last 2 years. This guy can score goals.

On Saturday, I was loitering about, doing very little and watching football. Having seen Liverpool go 2-0 up in their game I decided to flick through the channels and saw that Fulham were on TV as well. I decided to switch over and see how Mitrovic was doing. It was 0-0 but literally, and I mean literally, within a minute of me putting it on, Mitrovic scored. It was an incredible left footed finish from outside the box, bending round the defender to crash in off the post.

As it happens, Brentford equalised and Fulham sit 3rd in the league but the impact of Aleksandar Mitrovic is unquestionable.

I watched the game against Leeds a couple of weeks ago and Mitro was fantastic in a man of the match performance. The first goal came from a flicked header on by the big man, which hit his teammate McDonald on the backside and deflected in. The second goal saw a tremendous counter attack which culminated with Mitrovic playing a one-two with Tom Cairney, before sweeping it home to seal the victory. This performance didn’t just come down to his assist and goal though. He was outstanding all game and looked like the player many of us would love him to be in a Newcastle shirt.

I went to West Ham away back in December, before Mitrovic went on loan. The tension between fans on the subject was unbearable. Two groups of fans were furiously arguing. One set were insistent that Mitrovic is our best striker and that Rafa is a fool for not playing him. The other set claimed that Mitrovic is the worst player in our squad and shouldn’t be anywhere near the first team. I don’t agree with either standpoint but is he worth a go next season? I think so.

The difficulty comes with the fact that he only has two years left on his contract. If we take a chance on him next season and it doesn’t work out, we’ll be in a weak position when it comes to selling him with one year left on his contract.

I’d see how he fares in the World Cup. His detractors are right to say he’s playing Championship football, maybe he’s found his level. But let’s see how he gets on against the defenders of Brazil, Switzerland and Costa Rica. If he can bully his team through to the knockout stages with good performances and a couple of goals, he can surely hold his own in the Premier League next year.

He’s 23, powerful, full of confidence and loves our team. I think he deserves one final chance to prove himself. Dare I say, he’d be like a new signing.

Maybe he’s not good enough, maybe Rafa’s tactics don’t play to his strengths, maybe we can’t trust him. Maybe he’s got it in him to be the striker we thought we’d signed three years ago.

I wrote an article many years ago asking fans whether they’d prefer to keep Ben Arfa or Pardew, when HBA fell out of favour. This is a very different scenario. There’s no doubt that if it’s a choice between Benitez and Mitrovic, I’ll be waving goodbye to the Serb.

I would just really love it if I got a chance to see both next season.

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  • Paul Patterson

    I remember very well last season when Gayle was scoring all the time, the cries from the crowd were for Mitro, which was scandalous. There was almost no respect/love for the striker currently in form and scoring to get us out of the Championship.
    Gayle misses chances, but he gets into positions to miss the chances. Mitro won’t, simple as.
    Next season, we need a more dynamic, clinical striker and Gayle can be our back-up.
    I like his passion and I think he could have a part to play when things aren’t going well. But we’ve got safe without him, so I’m more than happy for both parties to move on, wish Mitrovich well and we pocket £20m+ and get the striker Rafa wants.

    • Natturner26

      Gayle has been useless this season. Why would he be our backup? That would be foolish. Hoss and Gayle need replacing. Mitro needs to be at a club where he fits with the manager’s plan. So we have a lot of transfer work to do on the striker front. Three out and at least two in. Think we are up for it?

      • Tony English

        If all you look for is goals from Gayle then fair enough, but you can’t look at the shift he put in yesterday and say he’s been useless, he never let their defence settle for a minute and played a part in the opening goal. He’s the type who’d fight for a place from the bench so deserves a squad place in my opinion.

        • Natturner26

          See my response to Paul above. Plus players that can scamper around are a dime a dozen. Strikers need to be a scoring threat.

          • Tony English

            A dime a dozen? I’d love to know where you’re scouting those from.

          • Paul Patterson

            He’s not clinical, but he does the ratting side of the game that Rafa wants. He’s a good back up but not a 20 goal a season man. I wouldn’t go out and spend a lot on someone else when we have someone willing to do that work. Mitovic and Joselu will be off.

        • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

          Exactly, Gayle has been excellent recently.

      • Paul Patterson

        Simple. We won’t be able to finance TWO good strikers AND Dubravka AND Kenedy AND wherever needs strengthening.

        • Natturner26

          Well, a smart person wouldn’t throw Gayle on off the bench if the team needed a goal. Mitro you would, but I think Mitro deserves to be somewhere where he will be given a chance to start. Lots of Championship teams will be interested in signing Gayle after the numbers he put up there last year. So a transfer back to the Championship for Gayle would make sense for the club.

          • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

            Gayle has been terrific in most games since Christmas, he was very good on Sunday. If he’s happy to stay, we keep him.

        • Jezza

          There is easily enough money in the club profits to finance all those things. The problem is not lack of money, it’s the personal greed of the club’s owner.

          • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

            And how do you work that out, your financial acumen comes straight from the Diane Abbott book of adding up.

          • Paul Patterson

            £30m striker x2
            Kenedy £20m
            Dubravka £4m
            =£84m minimum (before wages) before we start elsewhere. I’d rather focus some money on a new right back and cover at left back.

          • Jezza

            There is enough from the club’s transfer profits and the television deal to fund all those signings plus the two full backs you want but it’s all academic because there won’t be a single penny spent in the summer. Lascelles and Mitro will be sold for huge fees and there will be nothing but loans and free transfers coming in.

          • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

            There isnt enough money to fund £80m of transfers, that’s just a lie or you can’t add up. There will be around £40m surplus to spend.

    • Jezza

      “we pocket £20m+ and get the striker Rafa wants”

      You’re half right with that prediction.

  • X,WHY,Y MAN.

    The question is : Who would have been more effective this season for us, Joselu or Mitrovic ?

    • GlasgowMag

      Joselu!! 😂😂😂

      • X,WHY,Y MAN.

        I hope your joking with that one !

  • Stephen

    I think Benitez has made his mind up and he’s not one for u turns.

  • Gianfranco Shola

    The answer to this question is simple. If Rafa wants to give Mitro another chance then we all get fully behind him and hope he does the business. If he doesn’t and sells him, then we all move on without criticising the man who has single-handedly led us from championship fodder to solid top 10 premier league team.

  • Guest 2

    Clearly, Rafa hoped (out of desperation I presume) that the Hoss could do something remotely similar to what Slimani is showing. Mitro never managed that for us either and proved somewhat ineffective, as well as untrustworthy, in Rafa’s system.
    If Rafa signs Slimani then it’s unlikely there’ll be room for Mitro here – and I doubt he’ll want to spend more time on the bench playing second fiddle.
    Good luck to the lad, but the best outcome for all seems to be a summer sale.

    • TheNutJob

      Rafa won`t be signing any player unless it`s a loan deal

      • Jezza

        …or a free transfer.

    • Whickhamrobbie

      What has Slimani done/showed exactly ?
      Mitro deserves a chance of course he does but as with Thauvan we expected too much but Rafa makes the call and we must accept his decision .
      We slated at various times(me included ) Diame,Perez and Dummett and they have been fantastic the last month so it proves that a Champions league winning manager knows more than we do .
      To be honest non of our strikers are top notch but unless Ashley leaves or has a brain melt we are stuck with second tier players but i would rather have a team of tryers who fail than a team of failures who dont try.

      • Guest 2

        The little we have seen of him for us – he can run, he can hold the ball up, he can bring others into play. 7 PL goals and 4 assists for Leicester last season as well as a goal and an assist in the CL. He’s also got 26 and 15 from 56 appearances for Algeria.
        Hoss can do none of that and Mitro is slower than my Nana, never mind his temperament.
        Diame needed slating by the way. His performances weren’t up to standard and Perez wasn’t far behind. Shows what a good manager can actually do.

        • Whickhamrobbie

          7 Goals last season wow sign him up now sorry i just didnt realise he was so prolific .
          Look he may be decent but a couple of sub appearances is a bit early to be the new hope .

          • Guest 2

            Stop being a chump. He had Vardy, Okazaki and Ulloa ahead of him. He only played 90 mins 6 times.
            I’m not saying he’s the new hope either – he’s just more like what Rafa wanted, and expected from Mitro. I seriously doubt he’ll be a signing anyway as he’s 30 this summer.

  • TheNutJob

    No, in fact we need to get rid of all our strikers & start again.

    • mentalman

      Totally agree

  • Peaky

    Gayle & Hoss both need replacing….down to Rafa whatever happens with Mitro….

    • TheNutJob

      don`t laugh, wor kid had the National winner & the correct score for the Toon

      • Peaky

        Where is he today ??? Spending his winnings at ‘Club Tropicana’….

        • TheNutJob

          😂😂😂
          he doesn`t post when he see`s Clarko online.
          just kidding

        • TheNutJob

          we`re going to Club Tropicana on the 8th May for a week

          • Peaky

            Back to Majorca ?

          • TheNutJob

            yes

      • Rich Lawson

        Did he double it ?

    • Jezza

      It’s not down to Rafa, Peaky. The January window finally made it clear once and for all that Rafa has got no say in the club’s transfer dealings. Ashley has decided to cash in on Mitro in the summer and there’s nothing Rafa can do about that whether he wants to or not.

  • jack

    I don’t even see that he has had once chance anyway by any manager , I don’t see him as a liability either , people say he’s found his level but that’s rubbish , he would score goals in any division if given a fair crack , Gayle was second top scorer in championship and that’s his level definitely , I’m struggling to find a level for Joselu , you’ve just got to go through mitros stats at every club and internationally to realise how good of a project he really is at his age .

  • Tony English

    This discussion again? Look at the Arsenal game, a willing runner chasing down defenders, forcing errors, breaking quickly, putting in a selfless shift. That’s the number 9 we need for the personnel we have at this level. We need a Jamie Vardy type player up there, not a Mitro.

    Like it or not, that’s how Rafa wants to play and that’s never going to be Mitro’s game, whatever you think of his goal scoring abilities, running behind defensive lines and being part of quick transistions of play is not his bag.

    He’ll do a job in the right team, as he’s showing, but I don’t think he’s good enough for us to build a team around to cater for his style.

  • mentalman

    He should have been given a chance this season when gayle and hoss were playing so bad. I understand why he wasn’t but it was worth a go when we were struggling so badly for goals. If it worked then the team would have benefited and if it didn’t we would have known and it would have been the end of all of the what ifs and the end of these articles everytime he scores.

    As for next season i would give him a chance, he looks a totally different player to the last couple of seasons improving his fitness and mobility and i would say he will score more goals than hoss and probably gayle.

    Having said all of that i think it will be irrelevant anyway as he will be one of the first out of the door to release funds

    • nevfur

      Good summary

    • Damon Horner

      I think there are risks to both sides of the spectrum rather than the implied risk free opportunity. He could have defied his previous record with us and scored nearly as much for us as he did for Fulham then there’d have been nothing to worry about all along (but debate why he wasn’t first choice), equally if he scored once in five games, do you drop him then? is it enough time to make his mark? should he have three more games? what if he got them and didn’t score in those three games? it would then make our situation worse. Bottom line to it really for me is it came down to a manager judgment call on which is likely to see our performances change, Rafa, by luck or design, persisted and got the results, it went the opposite way for McClaren.

      • mentalman

        we can debate all day long as to why he wasn’t first choice but we’ll probably never know.

        I don’t know if scoring 1 goal in eight games would have made our situation worse, i’m sure Hoss has a similar record.

  • Coach Clagnut

    There’s a player inside Mitrovich no doubt. Just not a Rafa type player.

  • Mrkgw

    Does he deserve another chance? For me, yes – 100%.

  • Sing in the Leazes

    Remember when Mitro got concussed in one of his first games for Rafa? Rafa was literally holding on to him on the touchline trying to control him. But he couldn’t. Mitro had the adrenaline pumping and he just looked straight through Rafa. Again Rafa tried to get through to him but Mitro just brushed him off. Bad idea Alexandar! Rafa might be pretty calm on the outside but he did not look impressed at all.
    In that moment his NUFC career was dealt a fatal blow. He got a couple of chances after that but remember Birmingham away in the cup? Nuff said.
    You can quote all the stats you want and talk about him not liking his style etc, but it comes down to a single moment between the two men and that’ll take more than a few goals to change.

    • nevfur

      So his behaviour when “concussed” ended his chances here? Dear me, I’ve read some crazy stuff on here but that takes the biscuit

  • Andy Mac

    “I wrote an article many years ago asking fans whether they’d prefer to keep Ben Arfa or Pardew, when HBA fell out of favour. This is a very different scenario”

    and yet I find there are similarities ?

    HBA was the fans favourite and Pardwho eventually decided he wasnt the player to build his team around (then again which player was capable of building on shifting sand ?). Sadly the club somehow managed to convince the majority of fans that HBA was a waster and Pardwho was right. So HBA was deemed persona non grata and shipped off to Nice, via Hull, to score a bucketful of goals.

    That’s why I think Mitro has suffered in a similar vein. Partly because fans believe that Rafa can do no wrong and partly because they’ve been told the Serb is short on quality for a PL striker.

    This learning curve season has not only been a lesson for the squad but also for Rafa. He’s eventually landed on a winning combination, boosted by the return of Dummy, Diame’s conversion from Slo Mo to Whoa oh, as well as the inclusion of the two new January loanees. It hasnt been easy but like all good managers he’s shown he’s prepared to change things for the benefit of the team. So maybe he’ll accept that Mitro is at least a better squad option than either Gayle or Joselu as neither of them will keep us in goals next season.

    • mentalman

      HBA’s career since leaving NUFC has pretty much proved he wasn’t the player to build the team around

  • Tony Mann

    If he can stay on the pitch for 90 minutes – he MAY warrant another go.
    BUT, he’s got a screw loose and just like HBA on the post below, he doesn’t fit in the playing profile of the squad.
    Slamani is similar in terms of style – rough and ‘go get ’em’.
    But the quality of Slamani is leagues ahead,

  • Damon Horner

    No intention to dig at the lad but a genuine question. If Sissoko was disliked because he performed inconsistently and was assumed to have used us a stepping stone and that was what he got told when he signed for us, why is Mitrovic different to that?

    • Tony Mann

      You have just come in from the ale house and want to kick everything off.

      • Damon Horner

        Just a genuine question mate. That’s what these sites are for.

        • Tony Mann

          Only having a laugh – Sissoko got more page space than the entire team on this site when he left.

          • Damon Horner

            Sorry mate. Hard to tell on these pages… I don’t think for one minute he is but just curious how people tell the difference.

          • Tony Mann

            Damon , I think we’re talking at crossed purposes – Sissoko was a pariah when he left – the page space he got was all negative. Mitro is loved or hated – I just think he’s a loony pillock.

  • Down Under Mag

    Mitro was never going to fit into the way Rafa needed us to play to keep things tight to give us the best chance to stay up this season. Mitro needed to play the way his manager wanted not the other way around. It will be interesting to see how Mitro gets on next season here, at Fulham or elsewhere (dependent on how he goes at the World Cup).

    I’ve always loved Mitro’s passion fo rthe club since he joined but it never seemed to be directed in the right way. He needed to play a more focussed game and sadly, he also needed to have someone alongside him. He never got thker at NUFC because of how rafa played and Mitro is not the sort of player who can play as a lone striker…it may be thast he’s the right player at the wrong time for us and he would be best served at another club. There is also no guarantee that just because he can bang the goals in in the Championship in a team that is playing well that he will manage to step up to the Premiership…look at Gayle!

  • Stephen Paylor

    doesn’t fit with Rafa and his system of a narrow counter attack with one up front.
    Look at the balls Shelvey is playing to Gayle running in behind. That is just not Mitro’s game so i expect him to be sold for around 20 million. His form at Fulham has really helped add 5 to 8 million to his price. Expect an upgrade but a similar type of player to Gayle to be signed. Aubameyang type player, likely from France such as Dembele at Celtic. I think Solanke or Calvert-Lewin might be a possible too if they don’t see the game time they want at their clubs now. when Joselu came on against Arsenal i couldn’t help thinking i would love to see young Adam Armstrong coming on instead.

    • Jezza

      The only one of those strikers you’ve got any chance of seeing play for Newcastle next season is Adam Armstrong. There will be no money spent by NUFC in the summer. It’s loans or free transfers from now on.

      • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

        If you hadn’t so cowardly welched on the last bet we had, I’ll bet you that we do spend in the summer.

      • Desree

        Jezza, when do season ticket applications close, the day after is usually when fatty comes on sky to tell us he is skint!

        • Jezza

          I don’t know when season ticket applications close but you always know when they go on sale because we are suddenly very publicly linked with all sorts expensive top class players who we will never sign in a million years.

  • Rich Lawson

    Does he want ”another chance” He’s playing for another Serb and scoring goals for fun in a team that plays to his strengths.If Fulham go up they would be wanting to sign him surely ?

  • Geordiegiants

    FFS how many chances would any of us get in our jobs.If I’ve said this once I’ve said it 100 times. Lovely bloke with loads of passion and commitment to Newcastle, but simply not a good enough footballer for the premier league.

    • ghostrider

      But that’s not true, is it?

      • Damon Horner

        Does it have to be true? it’s his opinion, Opinion will be split because Mitrovic’s record doesn’t imply he is a superstar, at least yet.

        • ghostrider

          Of course it’s his opinion and I replied with my opinion.

        • Jezza

          True, Mirtovic’s record shows he is a mediocre player who failed to live up to his price tag and struggled in the Championship with Newcastle last season. He’s certainly no superstar, just ask the Oxford United back four..

          • Mike Adam

            There it is, the Oxford game. NO matter what any of us say, pro or con, only time will prove for sure whether Mitro is a successful Premier or other top league striker.

    • Mike Adam

      Only time will tell, not any of our opinions!!!

  • Desree

    He also loves Fulham, Anderlecht and Partizan and I am sure he will love the next club he plays for too.

    • thewildchimp

      He never said he liked Fulham prior to his transfer, only that he watched them play and that he thought they are a very good side. Also, he had said that he likes Newcastle even before he was approached by us.

  • thewildchimp

    People here often say: “But look how many goals Gayle has scored in the Championship: it means nothing!” Exactly: it means nothing.

    When I say the things like “Mitro can be successful in the Prem and Gayle (generally) can not”, it’s never about the numbers. It’s about the respective sets of skills these two lads posses. Stats don’t mean much, really. I mean, what should Mitrovic do to prove you that he is a good striker? Score 5 per game? Scissor-kick every third goal? Because if you only look at the numbers, you’ll never truly see the picture.

    Anyway, the lad is almost gone, we should focus on finding replacements. Gayle can be sent to the Championship fairly easily, at least for the amount we paid for him, but is this necessarily a good move? We need at least three strikers in the team and Perez doesn’t count as one, because he plays as a midfielder most of the time. Joselu won’t be moved on with profit, so I think our best bet is to keep those two and find a first choice striker to Rafa’s liking. If we can find much better than those two for the same money, let’s say, a lad with potential, like Sessegnon, then, yes, replace them. The problem is that this is what we already should have done last summer. Who knows what will happen…

  • Gareth Marshall

    The short answer is yes.

    Based on his current form he really should be given another chance, he is illustrating now (albeit in a lower league) the potential we paid all that money for him.

    But he won’t be given another chance, he be sold and hopefully even with a semi successful WC under his belt, sold for a profit which Rafa can use to buy a striker he actually wants.

    “he’ll never see the money” blah blah blah – maybe not, but he’ll never be seeing the inside of SJP on a match day again either, so.. . Sell him while he’s worth a pretty penny.

  • He will get his chance in the summer if Fulham don’t go up and opt to pay 20m to buy him that is.
    Rafa will not be picking up Slimani that’s for sure now as Leicester will demand at least 15m for the 29-year old which we won’t pay.
    Rafa could use any fund generated to buy Kenedy which we need much more than we need Mitro next season.
    Furthermore, I believe Joselu has been already told to find another club and Gayle might also go if a 10m+ offer comes for him from a Championship side.
    I think Rafa is definitely looking for all new Strikers (2 at least) in the summer as well as two fullbacks, another winger and holding midfielder.
    He will surely amount 20-30m in sales to cover 2-3 of those positions but the rest which is likely around 50m has to come from Ashley or future owner if we sell.

  • Fatwatch

    The lad has found his level, hope he makes it in the prem one day. He’s playing for a manager who he clearly likes and respects and he’s enjoying his football. Rafa will sell during the summer and make a small profit (20 mil might be too much, 15/16 mil for me).
    It’s the best result for both parties. Good luck to him, he’s an entertainer.

  • Mike

    Move on take the money for him

  • heretickle

    Ben Arfa over Pardon’t
    Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
    Forever

  • kok leong lau

    Sell him at good price and top up for another.

  • Colin Brumwell

    Yes, we have proved this season that you need more than two strikers, if anyone goes I would sell Gayle