When speaking about Dwight Gayle’s goalscoring this week, Rafa Benitez has emphasised the importance of his strikers helping the team defensively and showing good movement – making us wonder if these are two traits he felt Aleksandar Mitrovic couldn’t offer us.
The Serbian joined Fulham on loan on deadline day after failing to start a single Premier League game all season and he’s found soem form in front of goal, scoring two in his last two in the Championship.
Many NUFC fans questioned why Rafa wasn’t playing a striker who seemed our best on paper earlier in the season, however Rafa’s latest comments perhaps help explain why.
Here’s what he’s had to say when speaking about Dwight Gayle’s recent brace at Bournemouth, admitting that he looks for much more than just goals from the striker he selects:
“It’s important for the strikers to score goals, but at the same time when the team doesn’t get much possession like us in the Premier League, they have to help the team defend too,”
“They have to help the team with their movements.
“Sometimes the striker’s movements create space for other players.
“That’s what we have at the moment, players working very hard for the team and you don’t see them on the score-sheet sometimes but that doesn’t mean they aren’t doing a great job for the team.”
Mitrovic may be a handful and a dangerous striker when given the service, but Benitez describes two things here that I feel he struggles to do – make clever and constant movements up top and work hard for the team.
His fitness levels from a lack of game time won’t have helped his cause for either when he played for us earlier on this season, however he isn’t the busy striker Joselu and Gayle are. He won’t constantly close down and isn’t the brightest of strikers when it comes to movement.
I may be wrong, but this could well offer some form of explanation as to why Mitrovic never really worked in Rafa’s system this season..