Garth Crooks has named his Premier League team of the weekend.

The BBC Sport pundit selecting two Chelsea players and former Newcastle striker, Aleksandar Mitrovic.

Crooks says he wouldn’t have given £22 for Mitro after his Premier League debut for Fulham but after three goals in his next two games, the former Spurs striker says: ‘What a fantastic purchase Aleksandar Mitrovic is proving to be for Fulham.’

Newcastle United sold Mitrovic for £22m and that figure could rise to £27m, yet Rafa Benitez was forced to rely on loan signing Rondon as his best hope of goals this season.

Garth Crook summing it up: ‘As for Rafael Benitez and Newcastle – the limited resources at the Spaniard’s disposal at St James’ Park raise the question: is this really the place for him?’

The lack of quality and strength in depth was totally exposed on Sunday, with Newcastle fans now wondering if Rafa Benitez can conjure up another minor miracle.

Garth Crooks:

Marcos Alonso:

“When Marcos Alonso takes to the field he almost always affects the game. If he’s not scoring goals then he’s making them.

“Against Newcastle this very elegant player did both. This is the second consecutive week Alonso has starred for Chelsea in a run of games that has seen the Blues unbeaten with maximum points.

“As for Rafael Benitez and Newcastle – the limited resources at the Spaniard’s disposal at St James’ Park raise the question: is this really the place for him?”

Eden Hazard:

“The penalty given by referee Paul Tierney was debatable but there is nothing debatable about the man who took the spot-kick, or his performance. Eden Hazard strolled through this game and was head and shoulders above everybody else on the pitch.

“The Belgium international seems to have been given the freedom to do whatever he likes under Maurizio Sarri. Not so under Mourinho or Conte. Both Sarri’s predecessors had volatile temperaments and fragile relationships with Hazard.

“For all of football’s rhetoric about sports science, fitness and the tactics of the modern game, there’s one thing that will never change. Managers need to take care of their best players or their best players will eventually desert them.

“Did you know? Eden Hazard has now scored seven Premier League goals against Newcastle – he has not scored more against any other team (also has seven v West Brom).”

Aleksandar Mitrovic:

“What a fantastic purchase Aleksandar Mitrovic is proving to be for Fulham. The Serbian international left Newcastle with his tail between his legs and a big question mark about his ability to cope in the Premier league.

“I must say, I saw Mitrovic play at the Cottage in the opening game of the season against Crystal Palace and I wouldn’t have paid £22 for him never mind £22m.

“But since his arrival in London from St James’ Park he has not stopped scoring and may be the catalyst to Fulham’s survival in the Premier League. I still have my doubts about his ability to star in the top flight, but what a start!”



  • Andy Mac

    I seem to recall there was someone co tinually banging on about Brighton “having a go” against the Mancs last week.

    Well turns out we’ll all enjoy taking on Jose’s boys in the coming weeks. No need for 9 behind the ball at OT this season ?👌

    • Down Under Mag

      There will no doubt be a change of manager a week or two before we play them and they’ll be fired up and give us a hammering hehe.

    • ghostrider

      Except for Rafa.

    • Wor Lass

      We should ask Souness how much happier than our lads the Manure ones are having had a go at Spuds and losing 3 – 0. What a muppet.

      • Wezza

        I thought exactly the same thing.
        One mention of manure and ghostrider logs on after monkseaton logs off. Enjoy the game last night? I sure did!

        • Wor Lass

          I really can`t do justice as to how much I despise Souness – not quite as much as Warnock, though! Jamie Radknap`s coming up on my $hit list as well. He`s obviously taken Mike`s shilling.

  • Down Under Mag

    Rafa’s style needs a good solid defensive unit with excellent set pieces and good pace on the counter attack coupled with clinical finishing. He just hasn’t been allowed to build on the “defensively solid foundation” he built last year to improve his attacking options. We have actually sold a striker who is scoring goals who was never going to be disciplined enough for Rafa and i’m good with that, but to only allow a loan signing (from a relegated club) is a massive indicator of how things are at the club. The owner is not interested and clearly doesn’t like the fact Rafa is speaking out and has the fans backing…not sure I can think of too many clubs EVER that had an owner actively trying to undermine his manager.

    • Steven05

      I can’t name a club who are less ambitious than the one who call them themselves Newcastle United Football Club

      Seriously

      As far as I know, the essence of a football club is to TRY, support the manager, support the players, at least pretend to value it’s supporters/customers, build, invest – give some hope

      We are no longer a football club

      Thanks mikeCancerASHley

      • panther

        Then you clearly haven’t been paying attention, shola said it’s all good and the other 19 teams are idiots

    • Sickandtired

      Sold a striker who has one more than the legendary Hoss. Howay man, keep some perspective on that.

      • Mxpx

        And our entire team combined

  • Mrkgw

    Mitrovic – the player Rafa sold because he wasn’t deemed good enough. He dropped one huge cllanger with that decision. Moreso due to the fact that the odious regime didn’t release the funds on back of the sale. What a complete mess.

    • SuperDesHamilton

      A like the bit how you have a pop at Benitez and totally ignore the rest of the article about the rubbish our manager has to work with. But aye, champagne football against city if you were manager….heaven forbid

    • Angelswithdirtyfaces

      Mitro said himself that his style of play did not suit how Rafa sets up the team. It was more a question of ‘fit’ than not being good enough.

  • Kenny

    Is Newcastle the place for Rafa, NO.

    • Down Under Mag

      No, he deserves much better than this shambles!

  • Monkseaton Magpies

    They won by a dodgey penalty and an own goal which was never a few kick. We had six players out and scored the only good goal of the game. Rafa thinks Mitro is lazy as will not play him. Should be sitting on five points so hardly a shambles.

    • Kenny

      Problem is we have 1 point & we still will have after we play
      Man C
      🤡

    • Wor Lass

      The penalty was more than dodgy – even the Rafa-bashers in the studio had to agree on that – but it was a foul on Hazard. Chelsea were the better team but they were still lucky to win.

  • Big Hairy Man

    The right fit manager under the current regime is a puppet whose ambition matches the owner’s ie. PL survival with no transfer budget. When interviewed he must recite pre-prepared scripts penned by the shadowy figure of Keith Bishop. He must willingly sell any player of value and expect no money to replace regardless of the detriment to the team. He must never question the “integrity” of Ashley or the sinister Justin Barnes. Basically he must bend over and take it. Rafa is not that man and unless by some miracle there is a change of ownership he will be saying “adios” in May and few could blame him.

    • Mike

      agree 100% this club is dying

    • Kneebotherm8

      That’s the exact Ashley blueprint/CV for any potential manager of this football club……..I believe Benitez’ appointment at the time was a knee jerk reactive appointment by Ashley due to the precarious position we’d been put in by McLarens mismanagement ……..under normal circumstances……Rafa would never have been appointed……….too much to say for his own good under this regime…..

    • Angelswithdirtyfaces

      The right fit for a Toon manager under Ashley is…. the window cleaner…. and I claim my £5.

  • Leicester Mag

    This isn’t the right club for anything other than a complaint lacky desperate for a chance at a supposed big club. Even fans must see we cannot be a big club under Ashley. We are a laughing stock our loyalty reflected back by other fans as contempt. Complaint complainers

  • Wor Lass

    I reckon Rafa will be more pleased with his players than Jose is at the mo. I hope when that arch plonker Souness is next on Sky that someone asks him how much happier than our players the Manure ones are having had a right go and losing 3 – 0.

  • SuperDesHamilton

    But Garth the fans on here say Benitez wrong & we should be playing flowing attacking football with our limited under strength squad….

  • Mark Davies

    So, Ashley makes a profit leaving Rafa with an average squad and now the experts say Rafa should go, but should we the fans show our dissapointment we are deluded and should be grateful to Ashley for looking after us so well…..make your minds up!

  • Spoon_Army

    Rafa is the ideal manager for NUFC, just not at this specific time. Is a real shame the inevitability of how this will end.