Newcastle’s Next Number Nine

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If there’s one thing certain about Newcastle United fans, it’s that they love a good number nine. The likes of Shearer, MacDonald, Milburn and Gallacher all pulled on the famous jersey. It’s more than just a shirt – the number nine of Newcastle United has the hopes and dreams of the Geordie nation pinned to his back.

It’s an incredibly important part of the football club. Newcastle supporting kids dream of pulling on the black and white shirt. The number nine shirt is the one they want. Rarely does a shirt carry so much history, tradition, and expectation.

The current number nine, Papiss Cissé, looks set to leave the Magpies this summer. Therefore, the legendary shirt will be left vacant, and someone will have to take up the number nine mantle. In the current squad, the choice arguably comes down to two players – Adam Armstrong, and Aleksander Mitrović. But who is better suited to shoulder such a responsibility?

Mitrović

Mitrovic was a sensation for Belgian club Anderlecht. He was the league’s top scorer before joining Newcastle for £13 million in July 2015. The Toon Army were excited about his signing – Mitrović is a large, combative striker with a big heart and, crucially, is a bit bonkers. In short, every ingredient needed to succeed at St James’ Park.

Of course, things did not go entirely to plan. The Serbian managed just nine goals in his thirty four games last season as the Magpies were relegated. Personally, his season was also dampened by his indiscipline – the striker has a fiery temperament and his passion can occasionally get the better of him. He saw red twice in the last campaign, and was booked many more times.

It is undeniable, however, that he has talent. He seemed to flourish more under the management of Rafa Benitez towards the end of the season, scoring four of his nine goals in the Spaniards 10 games in charge. He’s also a favourite of many fans. His passion is a joy to fans of a team that have been lacking just that for so long. He even inspired the now legendary ‘Mitro’s on fire’ chant – although it only really gathered steam after being applied to a certain Wigan striker.

If he can mature and cool his head, he will make an excellent striker. Whether or not he will be the next Newcastle number nine, remains to be seen. No doubt, he would be a popular choice among many of the Newcastle faithful.

Armstrong

Adam Armstrong is a Geordie born and raised. A lifelong fan and raised in the Chapel House area of the city, Armstrong joined the club’s youth setup aged just 9. If there’s one thing Newcastle fans love, it’s seeing one of their own take to the field – especially in a centre-forward position. After all, the club’s two highest scorers both hail from the banks of The Tyne.

At just 19, Armstrong lacks a great deal of experience. However, he’s already been dubbed ‘the next Wayne Rooney‘ by the press.

Had United not been relegated, he would have doubtless been farmed out on loan somewhere in the lower leagues to continue learning his craft. He spent last season on loan at Coventry City, making 40 appearances and scoring an impressive 20 goals. His form led many Magpie fans to shout for him to be recalled to aid in the club’s relegation fight, but he was left there and allowed to develop at the League One side.

The young striker has already made it clear that he wants to impress his new manager. Looking at his performances last season, Rafa would be foolish not to give the Geordie a chance.

Armstrong is a different player to the big, bruising Mitrović. He is short, quick, and an excellent finisher. Given a run in the side, he could net a lot of goals. The step up to the championship is a big one, but Armstrong has the ability to be a real handful. However, his young age may hamper him from gaining the number nine shirt just yet.

But, if he stays at Newcastle and fulfils his potential, then it’s almost a no-brainer that he will someday be handed that famous shirt. If he’s given his opportunity this season, there’d be few complaints among the Newcastle faithful.

 

NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 06: Newcastle fans watch the action during the Barclays Premier League match between Newcastle United and Liverpool at St James’ Park on December 6, 2015 in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England. (Photo by Simon Stacpoole/Mark Leech Sports Photography/Getty Images)