A lot of Newcastle fans are really struggling to understand why Rafa isn’t giving Aleksandar Mitrovic a chance given our clear lack of quality up front and struggles in the transfer market to sign a suitable replacement.
It’s a tedious debate that’s dragged on too long, so here’s my take on the Serbian and the whole situation.
Mitrovic splits opinion, but he still has a huge number of supporters that see him as the answer to our problems and a player Rafa would be mad to sell. Considering we’re so short on strikers, I get it, but there’s a reason it’s not working for him at NUFC and it’s perhaps time certain fans accepted it.
Fulham and Serbia – two sides he stars in – both play attacking football (4-3-3), with Mitrovic their focal point. He seems to thrive in this set up, leaving fans questioning why Rafa doesn’t tamper with his system in an effort to get Mitrovic into the team. Stubbornness? Maybe, but it’s not as simple as that..
We play very differently (more conservative/less possession/counter attack) to Fulham and Serbia, but that was absolutely justified following last season’s 10th place finish. Does that explain why Rafa played Joselu over Mitro last season? Not totally, but I back Rafa here..
People are so caught up in his form at Fulham/Serbia that they forget that he he’s never actually REALLY looked the part at NUFC. 9 goals in debut season wasn’t bad in the circumstances, but he did miss far more than he converted and looked a loose cannon, quite unfit, sluggish and slow.
We then find ourselves in the Championship and this is now Mitrovic’s BIG chance to impress Rafa. He goes on to score just 4 league goals that season. Yes he was limited to 25 appearances, but again that was justified given Gayle scored 23 and looked far more likely out the two..
What baffles me is how so many Newcastle fans have used his form at Fulham (Championship) to try and justify why he should have been playing for us in the Premier League – yet the same people will call Gayle a ‘Championship player’ despite him being similarly prolific at this level..
No matter how good he looks at Fulham, there’s still several areas of his game that don’t suit OUR current system. Is Rafa foolish not to adapt? No. Why should Benitez – a world class manager – scrap his system to accommodate a player who’s yet to prove he’s actually THAT good?
He’s still very young (23) and I can see why some are reluctant to lose him (in form, handful, loves club, impresses at international level) but he’s still very limited in my opinion. He lacks pace, mobility, his ability to follow instructions is questionable and he still misses a lot of chances (see World Cup).
Is he the best striker at NUFC? Ironically, yes – and I was often frustrated he wasn’t given a chance over Joselu last season – but the argument Rafa shouldn’t sign a striker of HIS choice this summer and use Mitro instead is so tedious now. Mitro doesn’t thrive in Rafa’s system and vice versa.
I can understand why some struggle to accept us replacing him with Rondon, but he’s absolutely NO USE to us when Rafa won’t play him! It’s time to accept that selling him will be a good job done – especially if we get £20m and use that money to sign a striker Rafa will actually use!
If it’s to be Rondon then, like Mitrovic, there’ll be big questions over how many he’ll actually score, but he’s Rafa’s choice and a player he feels is capable of fitting into his system much better (hard worker, more mobile) – and that’s all that matters to me.
I back Mitro to do well at Fulham – he thrives in the right environment and with an arm around his shoulder – but if he signs their and bags 10-15 goals over the coming season, let’s not act like he would’ve done that at NUFC.
It’s been clear for a while that it was never going to work between him and Benitez.
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