Aleksandar Mitrovic has scored more goals than anyone in England’s top four divisions since joining Fulham in February. George Tipper looks at how Mitro has gone from a Newcastle also-ran to one of the most feared strikers in the Premier League in under a year.
Before the big Serbian rocked up at the Thames, Fulham was lacking a focal point. Somebody who could hold the ball up, add a bit of grit to the eye-catching possession-based football Slavisa Jokanovic had installed into our boys. Up stepped Mitrovic.
Rumour has it the deal was done over Snapchat, and whilst it has now been confirmed that it was over Whatsapp that the messages were exchanged between the two countrymen, it wouldn’t change anything. On the 1st February, the deal was done.
On 26 May 2018, the date etched into Fulham fans lives forever, Mitrovic had scored 14 goals in 19 games for club and country; and carried the club, almost single-handedly at times, to the playoff final. He wouldn’t score that day, but the damage to the rest of the Championship had already been done.
His first game after that jubilant day at Wembley, a 5-1 win against Bolivia, saw Mitrovic score a hat-trick.
In fact, his goalscoring exploits encouraged me so much to whack a one-pound bet on him becoming the top goalscorer at the recent World Cup. But that was merely myself looking through Fulham tinted glasses. He did net a first World Cup goal, during the 2-1 defeat at the hands of Switzerland. But no more came, perhaps due to lack of a Tom Cairney-esque players in the Serbian ranks…
Regardless, in short, Mitrovic has been dealing in the currency of goals lately. And business is booming.
Personally, I am not surprised by his goalscoring exploits. I have always admired this burly brute of a man who swaggers around the pitch, holding the ball up as if his life depends on it. However, he is much more than this.
Five goals in Fulham’s first six Premier League games meant he was the division’s joint-top goalscorer until Eden Hazard’s recent hat-trick usurped him, proves that; and Mitrovic has shown technique and link-up play of the highest order this season.
So surely it is time for my friends to start listening to me when I say he is the one of Europe’s best forwards!
No player has scored more goals in all four divisions of English football since Mitrovic joined Fulham. Let me put this simply: not the Egyptian pharaoh Mohamed Salah. Not England’s golden boy Harry Kane. Not even Sergio Aguero. I could go on.
Mitrovic’s knack for scoring goals shouldn’t be a surprise, despite a relatively barren run at Newcastle where I believe he was criminally underappreciated.
For many, (including myself) he was always a Football Manager wonder kid you just had to have in your team. During his early career where he featured for Belgian side Anderlecht, he added the Belgian Pro League golden boot to his trophy cabinet after scoring 20 goals in 37 games.
As previously addressed, a somewhat blip at Newcastle, where Mitrovic felt Rafa Benitez’s system played against his strength, coupled with ill-disciplined performances; means there’s still scepticism around his ability to play at the top level. That loss however, is Fulham’s gain.
People seem to forget, the man who is on fire is only twenty-four years of age, so he does still have time on his hands. Plenty of years left to keep terrifying defenders and to silence the sceptics for good. Something that us Fulham fans can be very happy about indeed!