Why Doumbia should start ahead of Mitrovic for Newcastle this weekend

St James Park

Newcastle United manager Steve McClaren has no option but to start Seydou Doumbia against Bournemouth with the club still in the relegation zone.

 

The above picture is of Newcastle United striker Seydou Doumbia forcing a stunning one-handed intervention from Stoke City goalkeeper Jack Butland deep into added-on time at the Britannia Stadium. It would prove to be Newcastle's final chance - and only clear-cut chance - of a frustrating evening in the Potteries.

 

What that image doesn't tell you is that Doumbia - a January loan signing from Roma - had only been introduced onto the pitch in the 84th minute. In six minutes plus an extra four added on by the referee, he had produced more of a threat than Aleksandar Mitrovic had shown in the previous 84 minutes. 

 

The worrying thing for fans of the Magpies is that it took boss Steve McClaren so long to replace the Serbian, who had seen ball after ball ricochet off his boot or body as he was easily marshalled by a combination of Marc Muniesa, Philipp Wollscheid and Geoff Cameron. McClaren's hand was only forced when Newcastle fell behind to Xherdan Shaqiri's long-range effort with nine minutes left and by then, it was too late.

 

Can McClaren be criticised for preferring to stick with the same players when the game was locked at 0-0? Probably not. A point for Newcastle would have been enough to move them outside of the relegation zone, and a draw against Stoke on a wet, cold, windy midweek night is a good result, right? Both points are valid, but given that the North-East giants barely registered a shot in anger before Stoke's winning goal, why was Doumbia held in reserve?

 

It was clear that the travelling support were expecting to see their new signing. Chants of "you don't know what you're doing" accompanied the arrival of Emmanuel Riviere, who had made just one two-minute appearance off the bench all season. He had been trusted over the likes of both Doumbia and Ayoze Perez, who cannot be associated with the 5-1 demolition that occurred at Chelsea in their previous match.

 

It was a strange decision from McClaren, who is continuing to face questions about his future. This was a much-improved performance from the inept, work-shy display they delivered in West London, but there was no threat in front of goal, and McClaren kept trust in a player who has not contributed a goal or assist on the road for nearly three months.

 

If Newcastle are to retain their Premier League status, they are going to rely heavily on their home form. They have picked up seven points against Manchester United, West Ham United and West Bromwich Albion and they have been superb in each fixture. More specifically, so has Mitrovic. He has squandered opportunities, but they were three of his most effective outings since the start of August. After his performance on Wednesday evening, however, he should not start against Bournemouth, and the St James' Park faithful have to see their new man in action.

 

There was excitement when the club announced that the Ivorian had linked up with the club until the end of the season. He had gone eight games without a goal during a loan spell at CSKA Moscow before arriving in England, but Newcastle fans remember him for the four Champions League goals that he has scored against Manchester City and Manchester United since October 2014. McClaren may feel that he needs time to get up to speed with the pace of the Premier League, but he has played 26 minutes in four matches, and more importantly, McClaren does not have time.

 

He has 10 games to save Newcastle's season. He cannot afford to let another match go by without Doumbia being granted a starting place. Mitrovic has his qualities, but he is no more than hit-and-miss. The fans need a lift and a chance to make Doumbia feel welcomed and involved. He could have surely had his pick of clubs in England, but he chose Newcastle. McClaren needs to show him and the supporters that he made the right decision, and that there isn't a reliance on a 21-year-old who has scored just five times all season.

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