Former Newcastle United striker Malcolm Macdonald has offered his in-depth assessment of NUFC outcast Aleksandar Mitrovic and to say he hasn’t been too complimentary is an understatement – claiming he ‘regrets the day Newcastle bought him’
This isn’t the first time Macdonald has made his opinions known about the Serbian striker, however he does know a thing or two about putting the ball in the back of the net, having scored 138 times in 257 games in black and white.
In a piece written for The Chronicle this week, here’s what Supermac had to say when addressing Newcastle’s striker issues, but in particular, the Aleksandar Mitrovic debate:
“The whole debate surrounding Aleksandar Mitrovic really mystifies me.
“I know there’s a support for him in the crowd but they really are responding to his antics, not his talent on the field. I think he plays the crowd better than he plays football with all the raised fists and trying to gee up the crowd.
“Alan Shearer did not carry on like that after he had scored 50 to 100 goals for Newcastle. In fact, he didn’t get up to those antics when he had 200 goals in black and white. Mitrovic isn’t anywhere near that level but the way some talk about him, it’s almost as if he is the answer to Benitez’s prayers and the manager just doesn’t realise it.
“I’ve spoken and written about my frustration regarding Mitrovic before and I know some people take offence at it. But my frustration with him is that he has some of the natural attributes which should make him a force to be reckoned with but he just does not use them.
“I remember an exercise that I tried out with my strikers when I took over at Fulham as a manager. We were struggling terribly at the time and I remember I asked our forwards to write down for me on a piece of paper what their best five attributes were. They looked at me shocked but the idea was to get them to realise that they weren’t utilising the talent they had.
“I bet if you did the same for Mitrovic, he would not be making the most of those five characteristics. He should be dominant in the air but he does not channel his strength or aggression properly to bully opposing defenders or win headers.
“When he scored his goal against West Ham I think it was the first time he had jumped and headed it with his feet off the ground. He should be dominating centre halves but instead he still allows himself to be wound up by them. Considering how long he has been a professional footballer – and how long he has played in England – that is just not acceptable.
“Yes, he will get some headed goals but I don’t think he uses his physicality to his advantage. In fact, I think he misuses his attributes by throwing around his weight in response to being wound up by defenders. He’s more interested in getting an advantage over opposition defenders that way – which earns him his red cards – than by channeling that aggression in the right way and scoring goals by being physical dominant.
“If he was able to concentrate and put his strengths to their best use, he could be an aerially dominant player in the mould of Wyn Davies or the great Tony Hateley, who was one of the most impressive headers of a ball in the game. But instead we see him come on, huff and puff and contribute virtually zero.”
When you look back at what he said about the striker in July, it’s not surprise to see his opinion hasn’t changed given he’s largely been an unused part of Benitez’s squad so far this season:
Malcom MacDonald on Aleksandar Mitrovic..
Some very harsh comments here!
(Video via @ChronicleNUFC) ⚫️⚪️
— Black&WhiteBarmy (@BlackWhiteBarmy) July 8, 2017
Supermac then offered his views on Joselu, however appeared equally unconvinced from what he’s seen from the Spanish striker so far:
“He (Mitrovic) is not alone. I hate to agree with Mark Hughes but Joselu will do nothing for Newcastle. I don’t think he is technically good enough and he is not a finisher either.
“When I see the great number nines down the years, he is not of that calibre and it feels to me like his continued inclusion in the team is more of a message to the owner for not backing Benitez than it is confidence that Joselu will score ten or more goals this season.”
Fellow attacker Ayoze Perez was then discussed, with Macdonald admitting to having some sympathy for the Spanish number 10, feeling he would thrive if he was partnered by a better striker or playing in a better team:
“I feel for Ayoze Perez, who is working his socks off and – I think – knows he is in a battle for his career at Newcastle. He does not have a pyhysical presence and I’m not sure he will ever be the greatest goal threat in the league but his workrate is phenomenal and he has some deft touches.
“But playing alongside Joselu or Mitrovic is not a task I envy. If he was playing in a better team I think he would be much more highly-regarded than he is. Alongside someone like Alan Shearer, he would have looked exceptional.
“The answer for Rafa is in the transfer market armed with funds. Although there are people calling for Mitrovic, I just don’t think he will be the man to score the goals Newcastle need.”
Here’s Supermac’s final comments on the forward options at Rafa’s disposal as stated in his piece in the Chronicle this week, where he quite brutally admits that he regrets the day we signed Mitrovic from Anderlecht:
‘I like Gayle and think that if he’s fit and playing with confidence, he is a good player. You can see he has that striker’s instinct.’
‘To be honest, I regret the day Newcastle bought him. If you had £13million and gave it to Rafa Benitez, he would buy a much better, more complete forward.’
‘He works ever so hard and I have sympathy for him. He’s in a battle for his career but he’s not helped by what is around him.’
‘I’m afraid I just don’t believe that he’s going to be the answer for Newcastle. I think Mark Hughes was right about him: he will not do it for Newcastle and isn’t good enough for the Premier League.’
An honest assessment from the former NUFC striker who didn’t hold back at all here.
I must admit, some of his views I agree with, however he has a tendency to go a little overboard when it comes to Mitrovic. Given the lack of game time he is actually being given recently, it has not been easy for him to really show what he can do? Whether that is his own fault or not is another matter however.
It’s maybe also a little harsh to be so critical of a striker who is still just 23 – especially considering he has got almost 100 senior goals under his belt already. An impressive tally, even if his flaws are clear for many to see at NUFC.