The strangest thing about Saturday’s dismal defeat against Eddie Howe’s plucky Bournemouth side, was the total ignorance on the part of Rafael Benitez towards the chants of the crowd.
Newcastle United were once again floundering in front of goal, despite Benitez finally opting for a two-pronged strike-force. Joselu has struggled to find the net for the majority of his Premier League career, and Dwight Gayle is simply not cutting it at the top level either. The fans became agitated, as they always do, and began to call for a certain Serbian to come off the bench and give the game some sort of spark.
So, to their dismay, on comes Ayoze Perez, a man who has been the subject of some fierce criticism this season for his lackluster performances. As much as the Magpie faithful love and adore their manager, they were truly baffled. If ever a substitution could say so much.
The bottom line is this. Rafa Benitez does not rate, or trust Aleksandar Mitrovic. His lack of appearances last season in the Championship was one of the dark clouds that loomed over an otherwise wonderful season. Here you have a young centre-forward, who has a genuine love for our club, loaded with untapped talent and desperate to prove his worth.
Disciplinary issues have marred his United career thus far. The instant yellow card he received on his debut seemingly set the tone which ultimately led to another the following week, before it all came to an ugly head against Arsenal. He was sent off early on in that game, which of course, cost his team dearly that afternoon.
Things improved, and “Mitro” toed the line well during the middle of the campaign, and he became a fans favourite along the way. His equaliser in the last Tyne-Wear derby will live with the fans forever.
By the last game of the season, even though the team had been relegated, the former Anderlecht man gave everybody a glimpse of what was to come in the Championship, or so they thought. His headed goal to put Newcastle 2-0 up against Tottenham Hotspur was absolutely brilliant. His ninth of the season. He was becoming the “number nine”.
Then, it was all swept away. An idiotic challenge on Kyle Walker again left his side a man down, and highlighted to Benitez that he simply cannot be trusted.
The Manuel Lanzini debacle that transpired when West Ham were slaughtered at St James’ earlier this season – which was blown totally out of proportion by the way – only made the manager sour even further on Mitrovic. He has barely featured since, despite being Newcastle’s top-goal scorer this season. Let that sink in, he is still the top-scorer for the club, alongside Jamaal Lascelles and Joselu.
Two goals from 135 competitive minutes, compared with the Spanish striker, who has the same tally from 736 minutes.
Simply put, the stats don’t lie in this case. Aleksandar Mitrovic is better than Joselu. He scores more goals, his hold-up play is far superior, he is more of a danger in the air and he has the potential to improve season by season, match-by-match.
No, he is not perfect. Far from it actually, but he is the best Newcastle have right now, and he HAS to play at Old Trafford on the 18th.
It’s time to bite the bullet Rafa, play him!