Aleksandar Mitrovic has offered an insight into why things haven’t worked out for him at Newcastle while Rafa Benitez has been in charge, admitting that his tactics and style of play didn’t suit his strengths – also feeling he wasn’t given enough time on the pitch to score goals.
The Serbian was loaned to Fulham on deadline day as we know, and although he failed to get on the scoresheet in his opening three outings for the Championship club, he’s found the net in his last two, scoring away at Bristol City and in Saturday’s 2-0 win over Wolves at Craven Cottage.
It’s great to see the 23-year-old playing regularly and scoring goals, however there’s been several Newcastle fans left regretting that Rafa let him go last month.
Mitrovic has since given a revealing interview on the matter, explaining why it wasn’t working for him under Benitez at Newcastle and how Fulham’s style of play has suited him much more:
“I didn’t play a lot or start many games at Newcastle. When you compare all the games that I played there, just 10 or 15 minutes each week, I didn’t have a lot of chances to score goals.
“The style we play here is very different to the one we play at Newcastle, so for me it’s much easier to play because I have a lot of crosses and chances created for me, and the lads are always looking to use me the way they like, which is where I’m strongest.
“At Newcastle, the team there played a compact shape and mostly counter attacked, so this is not where I am strongest.
“This is the style that Rafa played and I have to accept this, but here I have adapted really fast because we play attacking football with a lot of crosses and balls into the box and around it too.
This all makes a lot of sense. If you look back to his prolific spell at Anderlecht and the system that Serbia play, both play 4-3-3 (like Fulham), meaning he gets good service from wide areas and is the man in the middle whose simply tasked with holding up the ball, linking the play and putting the ball into the back of the net.
Benitez would have wanted him to do similar things form Newcastle, so you may be wondering what’s so different, however Rafa wants his striker to do a lot of dirty work, make runs and be able to manage when isolated (with us often having a deep starting position as a side due to our counter attacking approach).
In all honesty, Benitez isn’t going to change his approach for Mitrovic, so even if he does continue to do brilliantly for Fulham, I can’t see a world where Mitrovic works in Rafa’s system. You’d also think he’ll want to move to a side that plays to his strengths, opposed to him adapt his game to fit in but not stand out.
This is a really interesting insight, however, and perhaps proves that Benitez and Mitrovic’s issues stem from tactical and stylistic issues more so than temperament and attitude on the training pitch.
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