Newcastle remain in the Premier League relegation zone with just one point from their opening four fixtures.
The Magpies’ wretched start to the new campaign continued on Saturday as they were beaten 2-1 by Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium. Raheem Sterling opened the scoring after just eight minutes before DeAndre Yedlin levelled proceedings before the interval. A thunderbolt from Kyle Walker was enough to hand Pep Guardiola all three points and pile the pressure on Rafael Benitez.
The Spaniard bemoaned the lack of support he received in the summer transfer window with Mike Ashley failing to make funds available to strengthen the squad. The weaknesses in the team are in plain sight, and the Magpies are in real danger of returning to the Championship if Benitez is unable to improve their fortunes soon. While Ashley is taking the majority of criticism from the fans, the former Liverpool boss must also shoulder some of the blame.
Valued at £16.2m by Transfermarkt, Benitez loaned out Aleksandr Mitrovic to Fulham last season following a difficult start to life on Tyneside. The Serb hit the ground running at Craven Cottage and ended the season with 12 goals in the Championship, helping his new side achieve promotion to the Premier League. Benitez should have trusted the 23-year-old to lead the line when he returned, but he was sold permanently.
With four games played in the league, Mitrovic sits alongside Sadio Mane at the top of the Premier League scoring charts on four goals – more than the entire Newcastle squad have managed this season. Still only 23, Mitrovic will only get better, and it will be Fulham, not Newcastle, who will benefit from his goal scoring exploits. The forward may not have suited Benitez’s system, but working with limited funds, he was never going to sign the finished article and adapting his style to suit Mitrovic would have seriously bolstered his firepower.
At the moment, it’s his goals that make the Cottagers look far more capable of remaining in the Premier League.
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