Fulham history-maker Mitrovic is proving his Premier League doubters wrong

I officially declare this the best weekend of sport so far this year.

Manchester City versus Liverpool in the Premier League, the genuine possibility of a grey winning the Grand National and the Masters at Augusta throwing up an outside chance of one of the greatest-ever comebacks.

Add in the opening games of the Major League baseball season, F1’s Australian Grand Prix and Champions Cup rugby, and there’s a case to be made for the introduction of an intravenous Red Bull drip.

Which is why, even to me, it’s baffling I’m devoting an entire column to Aleksandar Mitrovic.

Think about it, though. What can I tell you about Snow Leopardess that the racing media hasn’t already? And as for Tiger Woods, he is experiencing wider coverage right now than the O2 network.

However, I realise I need to reel you in early, or you will turn the page quicker than I can type ‘Becher’s Brook’, so here goes.

Mitrovic has scored more Championship goals on his own this season than the entire squads of Hull, Peterborough or Barnsley.

His 38 in 37 games has already smashed the rebranded Championship record of 31, set last season by Brentford’s Ivan Toney, but football existed before that, so let’s go in for some old-school mind-blowing.

Only one player post-1960 has scored more second-tier goals in a campaign — Guy Whittingham with 42 for Portsmouth in 1992/93.

The big Serb has seven games left to score five goals and, thus, draw level with Tommy Johnston, who scored a combined 43 for Leyton Orient and Blackburn in 1957/58. If he roughly keeps up his current rate, and manages a goal a game, he will finish level with Sheffield Wednesday’s Derek Dooley, who bagged 46 in 1952, and behind only one man ever — George Camsell, who scored 59 in the 1926/27 campaign for Middlesbrough.

To be honest, if any player in the modern era breaks 50 in a season, I don’t just want them to be drug tested, I want the back of their necks checked for wires.

In short, Mitrovic is making proper history, leading Fulham to an immediate return to the Premier League, which could happen as soon as this weekend should Nottingham Forest lose at home to Birmingham tomorrow and Fulham beat Coventry on Sunday.

So, how good is he? Well, it feels like Mitrovic has been around forever but he is actually only 27.

That’s why I find it strange that so many are eager to file him under ‘too good for the Championship, not good enough for the Premier League’, when, in reality, he is hitting the peak years of his career.

It is easy to write him off as a big, physical target man but he is much more than that. His brain has matured, his first touch has sharpened and, while he is no Usain Bolt, his initial turn of speed, coupled with his reading of the game, often leaves defenders with a cranked neck or on their backside.

Championship top scorers do not often rip up the top flight, especially if they stay at the same club. Stands to reason. That’s why Toney’s 11 so far for Brentford this season deserves credit.

Last time out in the Premier League was not pretty and Mitro didn’t get many starts, but he did manage nine goals for Newcastle in 2016 and 11 for Fulham in 2019.

Not too shabby for a youngster in teams that were all relegated. It is not his fault he had hairs on his chest at the age of eight!

Supply is everything, and Harry Wilson tops the Championship assists table. He will be just as important to Fulham next season, while confirmation of young starlet Fabio Carvalho’s move to Liverpool comes as no surprise at all.

If Fulham can continue to provide the service, Mitro can absolutely provide the answer at Premier League level, and prove a lot of people wrong in the process.


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