Aleksandar Mitrovic says he’ll get his kicks from scoring goals at Newcastle United – and not kicking defenders.
Mitrovic will lead the line against Manchester City at the Eithad Stadium tomorrow.
The striker returned from suspension against Chelsea last weekend.
And Mitrovic, sent off for a reckless challenge on Arsenal’s Francis Coquelin last month, has vowed to “stay calm” on the field.
The 21-year-old was booked seconds into his Newcastle debut against Southampton on the opening weekend of the season, and he was shown another card a week later at Old Trafford.
Mitrovic was a marked man before he lunged at Coquelin in a bid to win the ball.
I don’t want to get any more red cards, and I am sure I can control myself to make sure that doesn’t happen.Aleksandar Mitrovic
Now, the Serbia international – looking to open his United account against City – is determined to stay out of trouble.
“Maybe it would have been different in other countries, but these are the rules and I know I cannot break them,” said Mitrovic, who was given a standing ovation when he left the field against Chelsea.
“I am sure I am not the first or last player to get a red card, but the rules are the rules here and I need to respect them.
“I can control myself. I got the red card, but I wanted to take the ball – I didn’t want to kick anybody.
“I don’t want to get any more red cards, and I am sure I can control myself to make sure that doesn’t happen.
“I know I can play smart for the whole of a game, and I think I showed that against Chelsea. OK, I didn’t get a goal, but I still kept on working as hard as I could.”
Mitrovic, signed from Belgian club Anderlecht in July, admits he has had to control himself at times after being given a bruising welcome to English football.
“It’s very difficult when you get a lot of kicks from defenders,” he said. “But you have to stay calm and think about how to score goals.
“They kick you all game, but that is my position and I have to deal with it. I need to keep working on the mental side of things, but I have shown I can deal with all of that.”
Winless Newcastle were leading Chelsea 2-1 when Mitrovic, suffering from cramp, was forced off five minutes from time.
Willian claimed a point for the visitors with a goal a minute later.
Mitrovic – who had combined well with Ayoze Perez, scorer of United’s first goal – had mixed emotions after the game, which came just three days after an embarrassing Capital One Cup exit to Sheffield Wednesday’s reserve team.
“I think we can be both happy and disappointed,” said Mitrovic. “It was a good performance against a good team, and now we just have to keep working in that way
“We played some very good football with a lot of aggression, especially in the first 45 minutes.
“There were a lot of chances in the first half, and I think that is the way we now need to play in every game.”
Newcastle have never won a league game at the Eithad Stadium, though the club won a Capital One Cup tie there last season.
For Mitrovic, it is simple. If second-from-bottom United “believe” in themselves, they can get a result against second-placed City.
“We have another very difficult game coming up against Manchester City – maybe even more difficult than last weekend’s because we play away – but I think we have to go there to try to play football and win the game,” said Mitrovic.
“We have to believe in ourselves, and if we do that, the results will come, for sure.” While Mitrovic has vowed to keep it clean, he will still play with “passion and aggression”.
United possessed those two qualities against Chelsea – and Mitrovic wants more of the same at the Eithad Stadium.
“It was a really nice atmosphere (against Chelsea) and a good game,” he said. “Especially in the first 45 minutes, it is the way that we have to play every game. It doesn’t matter against who.
“We need to be aggressive and play with a lot of passion.”