Steve McClaren believes Aleksandar Mitrovic and Joelinton suffered from the same problem at NUFC – feeling both were expected to do too much too soon after signing at St James’ Park as inexperienced strikers.
Interestingly, the ex-NUFC boss also claims the Serbian was signed from Anderlecht back in 2015 to be our ‘number two’ – suggesting the club initially planned for him to learn from Papiss Cisse before he’d become a regular in McClaren’s starting 11.
That said, injury issues meant he soon became the club’s first choice striker – something Steve clearly felt was wrong given he was as an ‘immature’ 20-year-old at the time.
A few years on, McClaren believes we are having the same issue with Joelinton, feeling the Brazilian is struggling to cope with the pressure that comes with that ‘big, big’ number 9 shirt.
Here’s what he’s had to say about ex-Mag Mitrovic and current £40m forward Joelinton during an appearance on Sky Sports News yesterday:
“We signed him and he was a young player and we wanted him as the number two. Unfortunately, we got injuries and we had to put him as the number one. He was immature and wasn’t ready for that. Hot-headed at the time. He got sent off. Discipline. He got frustrated and got down. And it’s a different level.
“It’s 52,000, you have to handle the pressure, and he was too young to do that. He went out on loan, I thought he would score goals, which he did. He came back and I thought he would carry on scoring goals. And, unfortunately, it wasn’t for him and he moved on.
“Newcastle have done the same with Joelinton at this present moment. Another young player who is finding it difficult to establish himself at Newcastle. And maybe, that number nine at Newcastle is a big, big shirt to fill. Mitrovic, Joelinton, for young players it’s difficult. Mitrovic suffered [at Newcastle] and has done tremendously well in the Championship.”
I rarely agree with Steve McClaren, but he’s spot on here.
Mitrovic needed time and a senior figure to learn from, and Joelinton is exactly the same.
I always said that Joelinton’s arrival should’ve been followed by Rondon’s. The Venezuelan is believed to have priced himself out of a move in the end, however the Brazilian desperately needs an experienced player to not only learn from but take the pressure off his shoulders when he’s struggling for form.
Both are talented young strikers – and the Serbian is scoring goals for fun at Fulham – yet we’re running the risk of ruining Joelinton’s confidence and hanging him out to dry if he’s not protected, making our decision to not sign another striker last month all the more baffling when Carroll and Gayle can’t stay fit.