“Mitro’s on Fire, Your Defence is Terrified” sang the 49,000-strong Geordie faithful as Serbian hero Aleksandar Mitrovic jumped up and down on the St. James’ Park pitch after scoring twice in a 6-0 win over Preston in The EFL Cup as the stadium DJ played Gala’s anthemic ‘Freed from Desire’.
If it marked the rehabilitation of Mitrovic as a player whose disciplinary issues threatened his early Newcastle career, it also marked the return of Newcastle United as a club who take Cup comps seriously and are in it to win it.
In many ways, Mitrovic is like Newcastle, a passionate monster of a football club – the striker himself was called “A Serbian Brute” by Preston North End journalists after destroying the Lilywhites twice with 4 goals in two games – and one awakening to its true stature again.
Mitro is larger than life, the centre of attention, at times crazed yet with a heart of gold who genuinely loves the club he plays for, wants to do his best for the fans he has a mutual love affair with and, ultimately, succeed.
Finally, it seems he and Newcastle have a manager in Rafa Benitez who can channel the awesome power at the heart of what will be again one of the world’s biggest football clubs and realise that vast potential.
Kevin Keegan got the ball rolling in the ’90s, flipping the club from the brink of 3rd division obscurity to top flight title contender in 4 years & Sir Bobby Robson took The Magpies back into the Champions League in the noughties.
Benitez is a Champions League-winning manager who will be keenly aware of the potential size and magnitude of a Newcastle United run right and he is rebuilding the club in his own image with early good results there to be seen.
Like Newcastle United, Aleksandar Mitrovic is a striker whose natural level is The Champions League not The Championship and together they are on a journey back to where they both belong.
A continued good attitude, hard work and focus are the keys – both Mitrovic and Newcastle must respect the grind of The Championship to get promoted, win the title and return to the promised land of The Premier League.
So far, so good this season as Mitrovic has waited patiently for a chance after missing the opening games of the season through suspension while the club’s new no. 9 Dwight Gayle breezed in and score 11 goals in his first 13 games for The Magpies to become the hottest striker in England as Newcastle went top of The Championship.
Now it is Mitrovic’s turn in the hot seat leading the Newcastle line and Geordie pundit Don Hutchison, former Liverpool, West Ham and Sunderland forward says he expects the Serbian to continue in the side:
“But now Mitrovic has found a bit of form, it’s important he stays in the side. He could probably go on a run of scoring seven or eight goals.
If he lost his place as soon as Dwight Gayle was fit again, he’s be entitled to ask, ‘What more can I do?’ “
So that is Benitez’s dilemma ahead of the Cardiff City game on Saturday if Gayle is fit yet after dropping Mitrovic after his part in the 6-0 win at QPR & seeing Newcastle slump 0-2 to Wolves, he’ll be loath to tinker too much with a winning team with the striker in red-hot form.
Kevin Keegan once dropped Mickey Quinn for Gavin Peacock despite the striker scoring and lost the respect of a valuable player.
Mitro’s on Fire and The Best Is Yet To Come
With six goals in his last 3 starts for clubs and country, Mitrovic is truly a player on fire yet his season is just beginning and he will come into his own in The Championship as winter draws in and pitches become heavier.
His aerial presence will prove an invaluable asset as he adds to his own goal tally and equally importantly creates chances for his team-mates, notably Mo Diame of late whose first goals for Newcastle he helped create.
Speculation has mounted about whether Mitrovic and Gayle will ever start in tandem up front together and while Benitez has played down the prospect publically:
“If they score two goals, each one every time that they play, I’m not too worried about playing one at a time,” Benitez replied with a smile when asked if Gayle and Mitrovic could start together against Cardiff City on Saturday.
he could be saving unleashing the partnership for a special game like away to Hull City in The EFL Cup coming up on 29th November. After all, it was Gayle’s late winner from a Mitrovic assist at home to Norwich that was the turning point for Newcastle’s season and together the pair could be a fearsome strike force for Newcastle.
Cult hero Mitrovic’s popularity among fans on Tyneside is such that a petition was started on www.change.org to rename Newcastle’s Metro service The Mitro with nearly 2000 signatures so far and readers can back it here – https://www.change.org/p/change-the-name-of-the-metro-to-the-mitro
Yet while the photo of St. James’ ‘Mitro’ station is, of course photo-shopped, there is no doubt whatsoever that Aleksandar Mitrovic is the real deal and will shoot Newcastle to great things.