Sympathy for devil: Why Steve McClaren won’t tame Mitrovic

Aleksandar Mitrovic
Aleksandar Mitrovic

Steve McClaren says he won’t try to tame Newcastle United new boy Aleksandar Mitrovic

Mitrovic was booked seconds after coming on for his Premier League debut last weekend.

That’s the kind of player he is. We see it in training. We have to try to clam he down (and) try to channel it.

Steve McClaren

And the striker, signed from Anderlecht last month, also clashed with Southampton defender Maya Yoshida late in last Sunday’s 2-2 draw at St James’s Park.

Head coach McClaren said Mitrovic, expected to again be on the bench for this afternoon’s game against Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium, had a bit of the “devil” in him after he arrived on Tyneside.

And he feels his aggression is an integral part of his game, much like Chelsea’s Diego Costa.

“You have to take the good with the bad,” said McClaren.

“We wouldn’t have been very happy if he’d got a red card for that, but it was just over-enthusiasm going for the ball.

“There wasn’t contact, so I think it possibly looked worse than it was.

“That’s the kind of player he is. We see it in training.

“We have to try to clam him down (and) try to channel it.”

“We said you’ve got to make an impact and that’s what he did – maybe too much of an impact!

“He has to concentrate on playing football, but we can’t take away that devilish aggression going into the first game, and we’ll talk about it going into the second game.”

Asked if he expected Mitrovic, booked for his lunge at Matt Targett, to get his share of yellow and red cards, McClaren said: “I think so, but there again I think when you play Cheick Tiote, that’s the same.

“I think we picked up a couple (of bookings). Jack (Colback) did.

“The game is about physically, it is about duels, it is about competing.

“Sometimes you have to be over-competitive.”

Cisse started ahead of Mitrovic and scored his 35th Premier League goal for the club.

The 30-year-old – who has two years left on his contract – could yet leave St James’s Park this summer.

But for the moment, Cisse, the club’s No 9, is a key player for McClaren, who is looking to “ease” Mitrovic into his team over the coming weeks.

“We’re very lucky to have had Cisse during the pre-season,” said McClaren.

“He’s not missed a training sessions. He’s done very well, and he scores goals.

“That has kind of allowed us to bring Mitro through and not throw him in the deep end, especially when he’s not ready in terms of physicality.

“We have to build that up, but it’s good competition.”

Asked if Cisse and Mitrovic could play together in the same team, McClaren added: “We’ll find out in the future.”

Emmanuel Riviere, another of his McClaren’s strikers, has had an operation on his knee.

McClaren said: “Manu’s had a small operation on his cartilage in France.”

Meanwhile, McClaren has admitted that he’s already upset some of his players with the new season just a week old.

McClaren said some of those left out against Southampton were “not happy”.

“A few have been left out who are obviously not happy, but that’s normal,” said McClaren. “A few have a bit to prove. They are disappointed, obviously, if not playing or on the bench.

“That’s normal, and we expect it, but they are being professional and carrying on with their jobs.

“We have had another week’s training and are getting towards what we want.”