A liability, unproven, reckless? Now a fan favourite and set to fire Newcastle to promotion?
When Newcastle were relegated last May an overhaul was expected and one has taken place which has finally got the club singing from the same hymn book.
One of those players who may have been cast aside under the Rafa revolution was Alexsandar Mitrovic. Often described as a liability, the Serbian had to wait his turn in the early stages of this season and why wouldn’t he with Newcastle winning and striker Dwight Gayle in the form of his life.
However, when Gayle picked up an injury Mitro has come in to lead the line in the last three matches where he has played a starring role in the toon’s latest victories.
Since joining Newcastle, Mitrovic has always been a fan favourite, but his impact on the pitch has often been more destructive than successful. However, under Rafa, the aggression which is part of what makes him the player he is, appears controlled and is allowing his natural ability as a striker to come to the fore.
Despite the lack of quality in the Belgium league his scoring record for Anderlecht before he joined the Magpies shows if given the chance he will be able to put the ball in the net.
I was at the Newcastle Cardiff game before the international break where Mitrovic was given a huge boost from Rafa. Despite Gayle being fit again, the Serbian was given the nod and he led the line well as the Geordies won 2-1. One moment that stood out was Newcastle’s first goal, with the striker playing a fantastic one-two before setting up Christian Atsu for a tap-in at the far post. You feel earlier in his Newcastle career, he would have been more selfish and it may not have resulted in a goal.
The options Newcastle have available are the envy of everyone else in the Championship and Rafa has a choice of two of the form players in the country to choose from up top. He has already played down talk of starting with both and who are we to argue, one up-front seems to be doing ok doesn’t it.
Benitez taking complete control of the club has been the huge change at Newcastle and is one thing that everyone at the club from Mike Ashley down to those attending on a match day can agree on.
This weekend Newcastle face a very tough looking trip to Leeds United in a fixture that has long been sold out. With Leeds in good form as well everything is set up for a fantastic clash live on Sky on Sunday afternoon. Will Mitrovic or Gayle start up-front? Regardless both could well have a huge role to play at Elland Road.