It was a strange final two seasons for Aleksandar Mitrovic at Newcastle United.

Whilst it was a nightmare for the club when Newcastle were relegated in his first year after signing from Anderlecht for £14m, for Mitro it wasn’t that bad a contribution.

From 22 Premier League starts (plus 12 from the bench), nine league goals for a 20 year old making such a massive step up, wasn’t a bad return – especially in a struggling and eventually relegated team.

However, the writing was quickly on the wall once Rafa Benitez arrived.

The new Newcastle manager started Aleksandar Mitrovic in his first two games but then left him out, starting him only once more in the seven games that decided the eventual relegation.

Limited to only 11 starts (four goals) in the promotion season and then not a single one when returning to the Premier League, it couldn’t go on.

After a successful loan spell at Fulham, a permanent deal was sealed this summer.

Mitrovic has now explained the process as to why it didn’t work out.

The bottom line being that with his 14 stone physique, Mitro found it impossible to fit into what Rafa Benitez wants/needs from his main striker.

Defending and then quickly counter-attacking wasn’t playing to the Serbian striker’s strengths and whilst he has made a great start at Fulham, there is no doubt for me that this wouldn’t have happened at Newcastle, even if Rafa had retained and played him.

Mitro doesn’t bear grudges and says Rafa ‘is a great person’, just a conflict of styles.

The main problem for the Newcastle manager and the fans of course, isn’t so much that Mitrovic has left, more the fact that selling him for £22m (which could rise to £27m) led to only a fraction of that sale price being made available. A £2m loan deal, including Gayle the other way, for Salomon Rondon being his replacement.

Aleksandar Mitrovic talking to The Mail:

“I grew up on Alan Shearer and Didier Drogba but now the game has turned round.

“Teams want fast players. That’s not me. But I know my strengths.

 “Rafa Benitez plays defence and counter-attack.

“I tried to give my best but it wasn’t me.

“I was just running and getting in the team shape.

“He told me what he wanted and I tried but I am 90 kilos and if I run so much defensively I have no power left when I am in the box.

“He knew I couldn’t play in that style and I felt it too.

“Defensively he was one of the best and you can see that when they play, but personally, I like to be close to the opponents’ box.

“I need crosses and service.

“I try to pay (Fulham manager) Slavisa (Jokanovic) back because he did everything to bring me here.

“Sometimes I will score, and sometimes I won’t, but I give 100% for him.

“Rafa Benitez is a great person and in the end (when I left) I shook his hand.”

  • Christopher Smeaton

    I hope that clears any anti-Rafa rhetoric on why Mitro was never picked. That plus his disciplinary record with a threadbare squad it was a no-brainer. In an alternate reality he could have been a special player for us. Good luck to him. Spend the money in January!

    • JEz_Brizzle

      disciplinary record plus thread bare squad made playing him a no brainer… duhh… choosing not to play him because he might get sent off… ok…. but getting sent off has nothing to do with threadbare squad – unless the team is so threadbare that they’d be a player less on the bench… Rafa didn’t play him because of the style of play, and possibly risk of sending off… which would leave the team for the rest of the game short. Full stop me thinks.

  • Ron

    Nice of Mitro to say it but it’s nothing we didn’t know.

    • Kneebotherm8

      A few on here didn’t know….

  • TheFatController

    So mitro agrees Rafa has a professional reason for omitting him. Which makes sense when you consider the facts.

    But we’ve been told countless times on here it was a vendetta by a bitter and twisted delusional Rafa? And that mitro was a victim of disgraceful treatment?

    What’s the point in all this if there’s no petty hate and no one to stick pins into regularly. Enough to make you give up on this football lark

    • Kneebotherm8

      Most on here knew it was a professional reason and that he didn’t fit into Rafas style of play……..the fact Mitro has come out and confirmed it might just put the whole argument of vendettas etc. to bed…..Rafa was never going to change his style of play to accommodate one player…..

    • thewildchimp

      It was never a problem that Rafa didn’t want to play him. It was a problem when Ashley didn’t want to bring anyone else and Rafa had to play Joselu instead and bench Mitro. Personally, I’d risk a bit more defensively and play the Serbian but it was Rafa’s choice.

  • Gallowgate Dave

    Refreshing honesty and maturity from a footballer. I wish him all the best and he’ll certainly be warmly greeted by me on his return and then I’ll hope he can’t hit a cow’s @rse with a banjo that day

  • 5floorshigh

    I thought they should have loaned him back to Fulham for the full season, if he hits the 20+ goal mark then his value goes up, could have been looking at 40-50M……worth the risk ?

    • Damon Horner

      Correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t he have one further year after this one on his contract? Your point is valid but the flip side is if he flopped we risk losing him for a much smaller fee, even if he didn’t with 12 months left we’d be lucky to get such a fee.

      • 5floorshigh

        yep I know….hence the ‘worth the risk’ question……another point to consider would be the Rafa position, will he still be here ? if not then another manager may have played to Mitrovic strengths. He may not fit the modern day striker profile but I reckon he does the main part of his job better than most……and we just sold him.

    • Jezza

      Wouldn’t have made any difference because no matter how much money he was sold for, Ashley would have pocketed every penny anyway. Fulham may have paid £22 million for Mitro but as far as the NUFC team are concerned, he left on a free transfer.

      • 5floorshigh

        yep spot on……but MA possibly got this wrong, could have took the risk and held out for more lovely money !

        • Jezza

          He’s missed out on making more money a number of times. Just a couple of examples. He took the poison dwarf Wise’s advice that the £12 million Aston Villa were offering for James Milner was double the player’s true value. Two years later Aston Villa sold Milner for £30 million. He refused to meet the £9 million asking price for Wilfried Bony and the player went to Swansea instead. 18 months later Swansea sold Bony for £30 million.

  • Paul Patterson

    No hard feelings and both parties move on..

    • Kneebotherm8

      Exactly……..he didn’t fit into Rafas style…….he knew it,Rafa knew it and most of us knew it……….glad to see Mitro come out and clear the matter up…….

  • HarryHype59

    Good luck Mitro! I reckon he will get 15 EPL goals minimum playing in that Fulham team. It is a pity Fatty has pocketed the money rather than use the Mitro money to bring in a better replacement.

    • Kenny

      have you reading my posts Harry ? 😂😁😂

    • DC1964

      That’s the sticking point, it’s shocking!

  • Kenny

    He will score goals at any level in the right team as he has proved in the past,
    i said he would score 15 goals this season and i see no reason to change my mind

  • Kenny

    been testing a new gin, one problem the glass is always empty

    • Mark Davies

      Who cares. Pour a new one

  • Wor Lass

    Well done for putting that explanation on record, Mitro. I still think it was a bit bizarre that you didn`t get a start when we were struggling so badly for goals but at least that puts things in perspective. Good luck for the season but not when you play us!

  • Down Under Mag

    As I always said when people were complaining about Rafa not playing him, in order for us to play him and for him to be effective it would mean a change in shape and formation and then we would end up conceding a load more goals. While I know some fans think it’s better to get beaten 3-4 than win 1-0, Rafa had a way he was setting us up and had he been backed properly he would have brought in mor eeffective players to have more of a threat on the counter…Mitro, as much as I loved his passion, was never going to be that player in this team. It is great that he knows this himself and hopefully that has put a lot of the ill will against rafa by some to bed.

  • GlasgowMag

    I actually think Rondon will be a better fit to Rafas style. Pacey, powerful, holds the ball up well and a good engine but time will tell I suppose!! Good luck Mitro you could of had a swipe bigtime but decided on the professional mature approach some you win some you lose!!

  • Mrkgw

    Interesting and many on here already know my thoughts regarding Mitro – for the benefit of those who don’t, I feel that we should never have let him go. In essence, I considered it to be one of Rafa’s mistakes and still firmly believe that to have been the case. Lets face it, Rafa may yet walk away from the club at the end of the season meaning that we will have lost both ways. Mitro was for the long term and by virtue of the fact that his best years are ahead of him, its lose, lose for Newcastle. Disgrace,

    • Squintytoonarmy

      If we had a bit of ambition could of had them both on the books – good competition and added depth

    • Jezza

      Whether or not Rafa got it wrong with Mitro hasn’t made any difference at the end of the day. As soon as that £22 million bid came in, he was gone. Ashley was never going to turn down that kind of money. If Mitro had been getting picked by Rafa and had been banging in the goals for NUFC last season he would still be a Fulham player now. Ashley wanted the money and that, as always, would have dictated everything.

      • Wezza

        I also think MA saw Mitro as a trouble maker as well and we all know what MA has done to ‘trouble makers’ of the club. Nolan, Barton etc

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