Ewood Park Was Perfect For Mitro!

Last updated : 04 January 2017 By Footy Mad - Editor

Newcastle United fans on our bus to Blackburn agreed that Aleksandar Mitrovic should have started the match at Ewood Park, yet when we got there we found out he hadn't even made the bench.

That suggests the striker could be on his way this month.

Image result for Aleksandar Mitrovic newcastle

If Mitrovic had been chosen alongside Dwight Gayle up front in a 4-4-2 formation, perhaps we would have had the fire power to pick up the three points.

Unfortunately for Newcastle fans, Rafa Benitez does not appear to share the same enthusiasm for the Magpies’ No 45.

Both publicly and privately, the club insist Mitrovic is not for sale this month. But doubts over his St James’ Park future will only persist until the January window closes.

Despite scoring five times in six starts in all competitions, Mitrovic remains very much on the periphery of Benitez’s squad.

Not only is Benitez not inclined to play 4-4-2, he appears reluctant to even field Mitrovic as a lone forward.

In all honesty, the only surprise about Mitrovic being dropped entirely from the United squad at Ewood Park on Monday - remember, he was not injured - was that it had taken so long for Benitez to do so.

The 22-year-old forward had played just 26 minutes of football across four games over the course of the last five weeks of 2016, yet the official club line once the teamsheet was released was that Mitrovic was “rested” at Ewood Park.

The Spaniard has been impressed with Daryl Murphy’s application in training and has been keen to give the Irishman a chance since November ... but throwing him on for the last five minutes was a joke.

Murphyscored 37 goals during his final two full seasons at Ipswich Town - and he, like Mitrovic, provides an alternative option to Gayle when things aren’t going quite to plan for United.

Most pertinently, however, Benitez can rely on Murphy to follow out his precise instructions to the letter.

It is clear that the Spaniard does not hold anything like the same trust in Mitrovic.

The Serbian’s reckless dismissal against Tottenham Hotspur last season not only ensured he would miss the first four games of this term, but it also sowed further the seed of doubt in Benitez’s mind that Mitrovic simply cannot be relied upon.

For a manager who demands his tactical instructions be carried out to the very detail, fielding someone as unpredictable as Mitrovic goes against Benitez’s very nature.

Mitrovic’s agent has been agitating for the forward to move on over the past six months and, no matter how Benitez tried to spin his decision to leave the striker out of the matchday squad, the rumours about him departing will only intensify.

During the summer Everton were rumoured to be keen on the 22-year-old, while Crystal Palace, Swansea City and Napoli have been linked with the forward over the past few weeks.

Newcastle remain interested in AFC Bournemouth’s Callum Wilson and Brentford’s Scott Hogan - though they are reluctant to pay the inflated fees both clubs desire for their forwards.

So perhaps Benitez will decide to allow Mitrovic to depart this month should a substantial bid arrive for the Serbian - and a replacement secured.

For now the official line remains that Mitrovic will not be sold in January. Benitez even made a point of namechecking the striker, unprompted, when stressing his unwillingness to sell any of squad members, Cheick Tiote aside.

But this mid-season window always prompts desperate Premier League clubs, most notably those staring potential relegation in the face, to make outlandish offers.

Were Newcastle to receive one for Mitrovic, it is surely something they would seriously consider.