Aleksandar Mitrovic must be ‘smarter’ to escape referee’s attention

Newcastle United's Aleksandar Mitrovic (right) is shown a yellow card by referee Mike Jones
Newcastle United's Aleksandar Mitrovic (right) is shown a yellow card by referee Mike Jones

Steve McClaren doesn’t fear Aleksandar Mitrovic will be targeted by referees – but he admits the colourful striker does need to be “smarter” in the Premier League.

The summer signing from Anderlecht was booked within 90 seconds of coming on as a late sub at Swansea for an over the top challenge on Neil Taylor.

Paul Simpson and Steve McClaren

Paul Simpson and Steve McClaren

Garry Monk described it as “tasty” and Mitrovic was fortunate referee Mike Jones didn’t deem it a straight red.

It was the second consecutive match that the 20-year-old has been booked within minutes of coming on.

And boss McClaren has called on the striker to keep his emotions in check.

McClaren, who hopes he won’t be typecast, said: “It’s only two games. The nature of the game is changing though.

Andre Ayew scores the second goal

Andre Ayew scores the second goal

“He has to adapt and keep his emotions under control. We all have to do that. We learnt that (against Swansea).

“There’s no point looking at the reasons, he did what he did.

“I think we’ve just got to learn to be a little bit smarter in our play.

“I’ve had a lot of these type of players during my career and do not take that aggression, that emotion away from the game. Just don’t do that.

“For example, Costa at Chelsea. And I’ve also had a lot in my career and to curb it you take 50 per cent of their game away.

“He’s a young man but he needs to control that and be smart with referees and opponents.

“But he’s just showing his enthusiasm, his will to win and wanting to play.”

Newcastle, who have picked up a point from their opening two games of the new campaign, were losing 2-0 when Mitrovic entered the fray at the Liberty Stadium.

And McClaren insists he just wanted to “make his mark”.

He added: “We didn’t put him on at the best of time to plough a lone furrow up front with ten men, it was very difficult for him, so it was frustrating.”

McClaren again opted to start with Papiss Cisse leading the line in a 4-2-3-1 formation, the same system used by the home side.

Cisse was largely anonymous though, with the Number 9 feeding off scraps before being replaced after just 54 minutes at the Liberty Stadium, Rolando Aarons on to replace him with Newcastle 2-0 down.

Next up for Newcastle is a trip to Old Trafford for a lunchtime kick off on Saturday and McClaren has selection problems facing him ahead.

As well as losing Daryl Janmaat to a one-game ban after his moment of madness at Swansea, McClaren is also sweating on the fitness of Moussa Sissoko – who was taken off with a groin strain – and Siem de Jong ahead of the Manchester United game.

De Jong didn’t travel with the squad to Wales due to a shin complaint and McClaren thought his Newcastle side lost a big attacking threat with Sissoko’s withdrawl at the break.

He felt his side had begun to grow into the game before Janmaat’s red.

McClaren added: “De Jong – we think that was a kick on the shin, which flared up.

“Sissoko will have a scan and we’ll see.

“Going down to 10 men and then losing Moussa, we lost a big threat.

“I thought they started well, as always.

“Then we grew into the game and kept playing our football and growing into the game. Keep it tight and make sure you go in at 1-0.

“Even with 10 men, it is difficult to achieve that.”