Why Rafael Benitez Should Give More Chances To Aleksandar Mitrovic
Newcastle United striker Aleksandar Mitrovic vented out his frustrations at the lack of opportunities under manager Rafael Benitez this season.
The Serbian international striker has featured only three times for the newly-promoted Premier League side this season, all of which have been substitute appearances, summing up to a grand total of 49 minutes, in which he has netted one goal, which was in the win over West Ham United back in August, following which he was out suspended for three games.
The 23-year old did start the EFL Cup tie for the Tyneside outfit against Nottingham Forest, in which he managed to find the back of the net. However, he ended up on the losing side.
The lack of minutes seems to have frustrated the striker and in a recent interview, he let it all out, saying (as quoted by the Chronicle Live):
“I’m patient, but we will see.
“My patience is almost to the end, so we will see. I want to play. I want to be on the pitch. I’m patient, but we will see.
“I see where I am already. I’ve said already that I’m patient, but we will see. I don’t know what to say. I’m here, and we’ll see what’s happening.”
It is no secret that Newcastle have been struggling to get goals in the Premier League this season, having just netted 11 goals so far. Yet, Benitez has stuck to his guns in backing summer signing Joselu to deliver the goods, despite him struggling to find the back of the net regularly. The former Stoke City man has just netted 2 goals in 11 league appearances for his new club this term.
Fellow striker Dwight Gayle has been blighted by niggling injuries and as a result, he hasn’t been able to get a consistent run of games in the side. He scored his first and only goal of the season so far in last week’s 4-1 defeat at the hands of Manchester United.
Despite the woes, Benitez hasn’t trusted Mitrovic to come in and help his team in the attacking third. After his goal against West Ham, the 23-year old has just played 20 minutes of football. So, it is natural for the Serb to grow disappointed at his plight.
But does he deserve to start on a more regular basis for the Magpies?
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that he hasn’t been able to reach his full potential since his move to the St. James’ Park back in 2015. In close to two and a half years at the club, the Serb has scored 17 goals from 69 games and has often displayed glimpses of his immense promise, but has not been able to do so on a consistent basis. His frequent disciplinary issues have also piled the frustrations on.
However, as per this season’s numbers, Mitrovic has a better strike rate in the Premier League (one goal in 49 minutes) than the other two strikers at Newcastle’s disposal, with Joselu scoring one in every 365 minutes, while Gayle’s only goal has come in 376 minutes of top-flight action.
Also, if one takes a look at his returns for the Serbian national team, since last June, Mitrovic has scored 9 goals in 13 international matches, leading the charge for his team’s qualification for the FIFA World Cup in Russia next year.
It is hard to figure why Benitez doesn’t exactly trust him to the fullest. But, the Spaniard needs to realise that Mitrovic is more than a valuable asset despite his flaws, and needs to use him more consistently. The Serb is a much more well-rounded striker than either of Joselu or Gayle and on his day, can be a devastating attacking force. And if backed by the manager, as has been the case with the national team, he will deliver.