“It makes no sense!” – My take on some baffling fan reactions to Mitrovic & Slimani moves yesterday

Islam Slimani IN, Aleksandar Mitrovic OUT – that was the big move from Newcastle United on deadline day yesterday. In the fallout from deadline day, I have seen quite a few of our own questioning why we’d bring in the out of favour Leicester striker when we already had a ‘similar’ style of player aleardy on our books in Aleksandar Mitrovic..

I heard some saying ‘I’d rather have Mitrovic’, ‘He couldn’t get in Leicester’s team’ or scoffing at the fact that we’ve loaned a striker struggling for minutes, just days after we were lead to believe we might break our club transfer record. Comments like these really baffled me yesterday:

So, I’m keen to address all these issues raised by NUFC fans I’ve seen venting on social media.

Now, let’s forget footballing ability for a second (although I firmly believe Slimani is better – as does Thierry Henry based on his comments on Sky yesterday) – the two are incomparable in terms of what they’ll offer for NUFC. Why? Because Mitrovic is clearly a player Benitez is reluctant to use (hence why the misfiring Joselu continues to get in ahead of him), where as Slimani is Rafa’s signing and a player he’s been tracking for some time it seems (see below tweet from North-East correspondent from the Telegraph).

As much as Mitrovic is adored by some sections of NUFC fans and as much as I feel he’d have been a better option than Joselu this season, he and Rafa did not see eye to eye, therefore he was never going to be our saviour this season. Slimani comes in raring to go, a Rafa signing and a man who can actually come into the team and be that striker Benitez has been after ever since the summer.

Another thought – I saw fans disgruntled that we resorted to a loan signing when we had some reason to believe the club would bring in a club record signing up top. Now, we may not have secured Slimani on a permanent, but make no mistake about it, we’re borrowing a striker that would have definitely broke our transfer record if we’d signed him outright. He cost Leicester £29m almost 18 months ago and they were believed to want £20m for him if they were going to let him leave for good.

Don’t get me wrong, there’d be more of a buzz around our new striker signing if he’d have been our new record signing – something we’ve craved for years since Owen’s £16.5m arrival – however, don’t let a loan deal make you believe this is a shoddy signing.

We were making moves to sign Jorgensen not long ago – a deal that would have seen our record broken if we’d paid their £20m asking price – however, I for one am glad we didn’t. Slimani will take less time to settle and fits the mould as to what our team lacks more so than Jorgensen appears to. Some have been left frustrated that Slimani has arrived with a slight thigh injury, but someone like Jorgensen would’ve almost certainly taken more time to settle. Pay £20m for a Dutch League striker who’d have to acclimatise to the intensity and speed of English football or loan a striker with Premier League experience and a decent goal record whenever he starts (8 goals and 5 assists in 15 starts). It’s a no brainer for me.

Back to the Mitrovic / Slimani comparisons – this sums it up for me if you’re disgruntled about letting Mitrovic leave for a player you deem to be no better:

Finally, from what I’ve seen of both over the past few years, I genuinely think Slimani has more to his game than Mitrovic – and it’s also worth pointing out that Thierry Henry said it was a ‘no brainer’ when asked if NUFC were right to get Slimani in and send Mitrovic out on deadline day.

He knows his stuff and spoke highly of the Algerian after admitting to following him for a ‘very long time’:

‘Works hard’, ‘good in the air’, ‘quick’ – isn’t this everything we want Mitrovic to be, but ultimately a list of traits he doesn’t really demonstrate enough? Mitrovic headed them in for fun at Anderlecht, as Slimani has done during his career, so it’ll be interesting to see how the latter does in comparison to the Serb given the similar sort of service he can expect to receive.

If you compare the stats in terms of goals per start then Slimani and Mitrovic’s Premier League record isn’t all that dissimilar, however there’s a much bigger picture in all of this.

Not only do I feel Slimani possesses more outstanding traits that Mitrovic (quicker, works harder and more dominant in the air), the crux of this matter is that Mitrovic was never in Rafa’s plans, so it’s a pointless comparison. I prefer to compare Slimani to our actual options, Gayle and Joselu. Is he an upgrade on those two? The answer is yes, a massive one.

We may not have broken our transfer record, and I fully understand frustrations towards a penny pinching, incompetent Mike Ashley whose delivered three loans (and two of them far too late), but we’ve brought in a £29m striker who I have real faith in to deliver the goods – something Mitrovic was never capable of doing given his role on the sidelines.

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About Olly Hawkins

Olly has been a Junior Magpie from birth. As a season ticket holder and avid Newcastle United fan - he eats, sleeps and breathes all things NUFC.

8 thoughts on ““It makes no sense!” – My take on some baffling fan reactions to Mitrovic & Slimani moves yesterday

  1. Mitro must have got into Rafa’s daughters pants or something as nothing is more sure than the fact he upset the manager big style.

    Running around like a radgie is hardly enough of a qualification for the striker we need, no matter how ‘passionate’ he seemed to be.

    That said, loaning a player who is carrying an injury and will miss at least two games (Palace & Leicester) for us seems pretty poor form too.


  2. Leicester fan here, to say silmani is a failed premier ship striker isn’t really true. He is a top striker who was utterly misused at Leicester. He is deadly in the air but we never played him with any wingers hardly, when we played him at all. Leicesters big problem post champions was integrating new expensive signings into a championship winning team. Puel is finally utilising the squad and doing so very well. Rafa I feel will get the absolute best out off of silmani and you may well have the striker you all wish for! we will see!


  3. So we get three loan players in and put them into a team who has nothing and who don’t seem to want to play for possibly the best manager the club has ever had. We can’t or don’t want to play decent football anymore but if I was the manager I would have sent Joselu out on loan and kept mitro and play him and the new striker together and go back to using wingers like we used to with Shearer and Ferdinand. The team we have can’t play there way out of our half let alone into the oppositions penalty area so therefore change the way the team plays. We are in a bad place and it will be a miracle if we stay in the prem this season. Our form is relegation form but let’s hope things change for the better but I doubt it. Any other club would have sacked their manager by now no matter who he was given our form. Does it not make you wonder why Rafa hasn’t been sacked?


  4. Rafa has his own management style where he demands respect from all players. In some way he is often not too close to players, in contrast that makes the players continuously working hard to get into Rafa’s good book and get selected. Stevie G and Carragher would testify to Rafa’s style. Though they hate the coldness of Rafa, little they realised Rafa has made them excellent players.

    Newcastle desperately needed Rafa’s type of leadership, as in the past there have been lots of unrest in the dressing room and players were taking the mick. That also goes with Mitro – a player who has experienced the past unrest and possibily the last piece of the past legacy.

    Rafa actually rated Mitro in the beginning but never I have seen a player carry and shake Rafa which caused so much embarassment to him like what Mitro did in one of the championship game after final whistle. Rafa clearly did not like that and he wanted to be seen as tough. If anybody notice, that was then, Mitro was sliding down the pecking order. Then there was also a moment when Mitro and De Jong were at loggerhead in one of the pre season match. De Jong was sent to Ajax and Mitro was seen as a disruptive force. Newcastle does not need Mitro and clearly Rafa wanted to move on from the past of infighting, ego and unrest.

    So personally don’t care whether Mitro is good or not but nobody is a fan of his behaviour. Rafa only pick players with right mentality and that was the reason he did not do well in Real Madrid with egoistic players like Ronaldo. I can bet you even if Messi is offered free to Newcastle, Rafa will not take him. His style or success always been in team spirit. Slimani ticked his boxes, so clearly no brainer.


  5. We have a World class manager attempting to keep a Championship playing squad in the Premier League with NO proper investment. There is in my view little between Joselu and Mitrovic. Mitro is very slow ( in a league where pace is everything) and lazy – the last pre- season home game against Verona when he should have been trying to cement his place he was shocking. However it’s his indiscipline that Rafa doesn’t like – he simply cannot be trusted to last 90 + minutes on the pitch.


  6. Jshivmetal. I agree totally about the big hug and shake you could see Rafa wasn’t pleased and it gave you an insight into Mitrovich’s over exuberant behaviour. Couple that with daftness on the field and a lack of pace and a work rate that left something to be desired and the writings on the wall.

    The other side of things Rafa can hardly come out and slate Mitrovich he’s too professional (though the last 10 years have seen plenty of ****e managers that would have) so we’re either guessing or trusting. Given that he did what he needed to last year and would doubtless be doing better this year if not for fatty I’m happy with his decisions.


  7. custurd:
    Slimani “comes in raring to go”? Errr, isn’t Slimani injured?

    Fair comment, but my point mainly being that he was keen to stay in the Premier League and prove his worth, so he’ll be desperate to get a run in the side (something he never really got as Leicester). I’ve spoken to a few Leicester fans who reckon he’ll thrive in a big stadium with passionate fans. Has an outside chance of making the game on Sunday from what I read today.


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