Shola Ameobi believes the only reason Aleksandar Mitrovic failed to become a success at St James’ Park was because of his “raw temperament” – feeling this was the reason Rafa Benitez refused to play the Serbian.
I see what Shola is getting at given he was a loose cannon at times, but I am a firm believer that Benitez felt it was his style of play and lack of mobility that simply didn’t fit his 4-2-3-1 system.
After all, it wasn’t long ago that Jonjo Shelvey had real disciplinary problems, but Benitez has never looked like freezing him out of the side over the last few years.
Here’s what Shola’s said when sharing why he felt he failed to succeed at Newcastle:
“I think Newcastle fans liked his tenacity,”
“Obviously, as a young player coming into the Premier League, he got himself a little bit excited at times on the pitch.
“The way he played, he’s always playing on the edge with his style of play, and he just got himself caught out a little bit when he first came into Newcastle.
“He was out of a lot of games due to suspension, and I think that meant the trust wasn’t there with the manager. But I think he’s learned that.
“He’s gone to Fulham and he clearly feels right at home there. I liked him as a player at Newcastle, but I just thought he was very raw in terms of his temperament, and that’s something he’s obviously worked on and is paying dividends for Fulham now.”
Yes he was sent off on the final day of the season (after our relegation was confirmed) in the 5-1 win over Spurs in 2016 – meaning he then missed the start of our Championship campaign – but I’m pretty sure this is the only time he’s been sent off since Rafa took over?
Rafa’s decision to go with Joselu over a fit Mitrovic was always a slightly bizarre one when we were desperately short on goals, and his form at Fulham will only give his supporters ammunition to complain, but I will always trust Benitez’s decisions.
Is Rondon a better striker than Mitrovic? Probably not, but if he fits our system better and we do finally spend that £20m+ received for the Serb over the summer then I’m quite content.