Before he even stepped foot upon a Premier League pitch, Aleksandar Mitrovic made certain that Saturday's events were preordained to be possible. Put yourself in his shoes: You are a highly-rated striker with Champions League experience and a goal scoring record in the same competition. You are 20 years old and have built your style of play on a bed of physicality. It has made you successful – formidable, even – and earned you a big money move to England. The Premier League is accepted to have a largely physical style. YOUR style. You want to make sure that Premier League defenders aren't going to take you for an easy mark. You want to establish your physicality before they can do the same upon you.
This is exactly what he did after sealing his move to St. James' Park. In the articles announcing his Newcastle United, he made sure people were paying attention. He said:
I have no direct message to them – but they are going to kick me.
"They are going to kick me from the very first minute.
"And of course, I will kick them back! This is normal for me.
"They will know all about me."
And then he did. In his first appearance for Newcastle, he was yellow carded 11 seconds after taking the pitch because he began putting into action his Brand. He is a physical player. He is not intimidated. He cleared out Southampton's Matt Targett with a tackle that, had he made more contact, could have ended up with him seeing his first PL red card instead of his first yellow. He followed that up a week later with a yellow within 90 seconds of taking the pitch following a clash with Swansea's Neil Taylor.
You can't blame the guy for being overexuberant. His game is, as we mentioned earlier, built upon being physical. He has a vested interest in Premier League defenders believing he can hang in physically. Mitrovic is a player who has performed above his age in many respects during his short career. Unfortunately, this headlong rush to make sure he is known to be "physical enough" to play in the Premier League is what ultimately led to Andre Marriner's issuing of a very soft red card to the Serbian during Saturday's match against Arsenal.
Newcastle United have seen a player earn this same kind of reputation. The blatant absurdity of Howard Webb calling a foul tackle during a Newcastle United v. Manchester United match, seemingly ready to let play move on and then halting play to issue a yellow card after catching view of the back of Cheik Tiote's jersey is a less damaging example of what we saw from Marriner. Oddly enough, Webb was not shy to jump to Marriner's defense for issuing this same kind of "reputation card" during the NUFC/Arsenal broadcast.
You would be excused for expecting better from the arbitrators of our sport. In a perfect world, each individual match would be viewed as a stand alone entity and each infraction adjudged in the same way. The reality is, however, that reputations matter. Steve McClaren and his staff are going to have to get through to their prize striker and convince him that there are better ways through which to establish himself as a presence in the Premier League or else this is going to continue to build upon itself and become a larger problem than it already is.