Last-chance saloon: Benitez must start Newcastle 26-year-old v Bournemouth
COMMENT by Laura O’Leary
Aleksander Mitrovic may have his flaws but he is still what Newcastle need, and most fans seem to know it even if Rafa Benitez has lost the faith.
With reports suggesting that Benitez is going to once again try to offload the striker due to discipline issues and not suiting his tactics, the case needs to be made for Mitrovic to stay.
The 23-year-old has not started a Premier League game this season, making two appearances from the bench instead.
In one of those appearances, the game against West Ham United, the striker still managed to score a goal in his brief time on the pitch.
It’s true that he was then suspended for three games due to a reckless decision on his part, which saw the FA charge him with violent conduct. However, once you have served your time, it should be done.
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Newcastle knew exactly what kind of player they were getting when they secured his services in 2015, he lets his undeniable passion manifest in sometimes negative ways.
Here is the thing. Newcastle aren’t exactly swimming in goals with Joselu or Dwight Gayle, and in Mitrovic’s brief appearance this season he got on the score sheet.
With Newcastle not scoring the goals, and technically Mitrovic’s goal ratio for this Premier League season being a goal every 30 minutes, he should be given another opportunity before being kicked out of the club.
While Benitez could argue how stupid Mitrovic’s actions were against West Ham, is the striker not worth taking the risk over?
A brief cameo which gives you a goal is surely better than watching the likes of Joselu play 654 minutes of Premier League action and only score twice.
Newcastle are performing above expectations this season but it’s not thanks to their strikers and if they don’t start scoring, Newcastle will start to plummet.
Then there’s the suggested issue that Mitrovic does not fit his manager’s preferred system.
Benitez can argue all his wants that the Serbian intentional is not ideal for his system, but he has scored in that system and that is what is required of him.
There also the fact that Joselu, who Benitez selects, get utilised as a target man similar to how Mitrovic would be ideally used, with Mitrovic arguably being the better version.
How can the manager argue that one player’s style does not work for him, while playing someone similar?
In Newcastle’s recent defeat to Burnley, Joselu was having no luck with the way he plays against that defence.
There were not many real threats on Burnley’s goal by the Magpies when you look across the whole game.
Benitez opted to add Gayle to the game late on and unsurprisingly he was also unable to have meaningful impact.
Gayle has not scored in the Premier League this season in his eight appearances, that’s 209 minutes played without a goal.
Who can say what would have happened if Mitrovic had played instead?
Finally, while there’s talk of a takeover at the club that could see Benitez have access to some serious cash for transfers in January, Newcastle have improvements to make in several positions as well as adding some depth to their squad.
The cash won’t be limitless, and other clubs will demand the utmost money for the players as they will be aware of the takeover deal that has supplied funds.
So why bother attempting the challenge of finding a hotshot striker who can deliver in the Premier League that could see you sacrifice strengthening other areas of the team, when you potentially have one already?
All Benitez needs to do is provide the striker with one more chance before doing anything rash.
In other Newcastle United transfer news, here is an update on the situation regarding this out-of-favour defender.