Aleksandar Mitrovic’s comments about Newcastle United’s tactics make little sense.
As Newcastle United progressed through the first half of their season, Toon Army and our staff clamored for more Aleksandar Mitrovic. The fan favorite striker was limited to a very small role behind Joselu and Dwight Gayle. The theory was that he wasn’t willing to follow Rafa Benitez’s instructions and, despite great physical skill, the mental aspect was holding him back. Now, after recent comments, it seems that theory was correct.
According to the Chronicle, Mitrovic is excited about the type of soccer he is playing on loan with Fulham. Primarily, he likes the fact that it’s not “more tactically set up” like Newcastle United was last season. He does mention that it worked out because the Magpies were promoted and he hopes Fulham is as well. However, his comments showcase his desire to simply, “play soccer” rather than follow a gameplan.
Everyone loves playing the carefree playground-style soccer and Mitrovic has scored a few goals already in his loan stint with Fulham. However, in the elite levels of English soccer, that doesn’t work. Tactics are a part of the game. Rafa Benitez is widely regarded as one of the top managers in the world. Rather than complain and be unhappy about him trying to coach you up, maybe Mitrovic should have accepted the endless soccer knowledge his manager has.
Physical skills only last for so long. The great players in any sport adapt, based on having a high IQ of their sport. If Mitrovic prefers to play backyard soccer and not gather tactical knowledge, it may very well affect his longevity at the highest levels. His loan deal is for the remainder of the season, but based on his comments before and after departing the club, I’m not sure Newcastle United will be a long-term home for Mitro.