Fulham boss Claudio Ranieri believes Aleksandar Mitrovic’s failure to adapt to English football cost him at Newcastle – suggesting he wanted too much time on the ball and ‘didn’t do a good job’ during his time on Tyneside.
Ranieri is of course trying to fire Mitrovic up before a crucial game for Cottagers, where Fulham would trail NUFC by TEN points if they lose the game at St James’ tomorrow.
Here’s what Ranieri has had to say ahead of the Serbian’s return to St James’ Park:
“Aleksandar in Newcastle didn’t do a very good job because when a player comes from another country it’s not easy to adapt immediately to English football.
“I hope when a player goes back to a previous club he wants to show something more and, at Newcastle, he didn’t do a good job.
“It’s not easy to adapt to English football. When you play in other countries you can touch the ball two or three times. But in England one touch is too much; you must play half touch and the player coming has to think about it.
“Only experience can teach you that, and maybe you need six months or one year to understand this.
“I don’t know if they will give a warm welcome to Aleksandar, but I hope Aleksandar will make a very good match.”
“I hope for everything for Aleksandar, believe me, I pray.”
It was clear from the outset that Benitez didn’t think Mitrovic fitted into his plans, or his way of playing. The current form of Rondon, who is a far more rounded front man, is proving Rafa right. Mitrovic needs a system built around him and given the criminal lack of investment from Mike Ashley, we simply don’t have that luxury and need to rely on teamwork, good organisation and pressing without the ball.
NUFC fans will be praying themselves that Mitrovic doesn’t come back to haunt us on this occasion. A win would be huge for us and would move us to 19 points, a tally we all thought was beyond us just six games ago.