By North-west correspondent Alex Stevens
Rafael Benitez has signed a striker coach to boost Newcastle’s goal output and bring out the best in Aleksandar Mitrovic.
The arrival of Glaswegian Allan Russell paid immediate dividends with the Serbian international pouncing to net the equaliser against Sunderland after just a few days of working with the former St Mirren and Kilmarnock striker.
Russell has also worked with Saido Berahino and had impressive results with the West Brom front man.
The striker coach confirmed his alliance with Newcastle by Tweeting after Sunday’s 1-1 Premier League draw with Sunderland: “Congrats Mitrovic on the important derby goal big guy. Massive goal for NUFC.”
After working with Berahino, Russell explained what benefits strikers can hope to having from his programmes.
“I tailor the coaching to match the positions my clients are playing in,” he said. “I’ve worked on areas outside the box, areas most productive inside the box and positions that are very successful.
“We work on drills inside the box, on reaction and touch and movement to get into the box at the right times.”
On Russell’s website, Superior Striker, he signals his aims when working with some players around the world: “Every element and fine detail of what it takes to become a world-class goal scorer has been implemented into the design and methods of this programme.
“The technical, physical, tactical and mental science of how to establish yourself as a ruthless and consistent goal scorer are just some of the objectives covered to take your career beyond the levels you aspire to.”
— Superior Striker (@SuperiorStriker) March 20, 2016
Benitez has made it clear that Mitrovic is fundamental to Newcastle hauling themselves out of the relegation zone and maintaining their Premier League status.
The striker has scored six league goals in 26 matches this season, 20 of which have been starts, following his £14.5million transfer from Anderlecht last summer.
The manager said: “We have had him doing some specific training with the strikers, some finishing sessions.
“We know he has the potential. Now we have to give him the confidence to make the difference. He can score goals but he’s not at the moment.
“I have watched him training and know he will score. We must give him confidence, movement and tips. Maybe he can improve his game.”