Why Romelu Lukaku is, and will be a United success!

I’m puzzled by Romelu Lukaku, or more accurately I’m puzzled by the press he is getting at the moment. I don’t understand what he has done wrong. I read this week that, “ Lukaku is a Premier League player but not a Manchester United player”. What does that mean? Do the ex-players and fans who say such things, understand how arrogant and patronising they sound?
  These are the facts, Manchester United paid a lot of money, approximately seventy five million pounds for his services, in the summer. However, the transfer window just gone was the strangest ever. For the last five years Southampton have sold everything except the canteen cutlery to Liverpool and suddenly said, “ no more”, without any real reason. Arsenal have tried to buy Lacazette for the last three years and he has always said that,” he wants to play for a big Champions League club, Champions League football is important to him, he would never join a team not in the Champions League etc, etc”, this summer he signed for Arsenal the first time in twenty years that they failed to qualify for the Champions League, and of course Neymar’s move to P.S.G knocked all transfer records out of the ball park. In this climate, seventy five million was the going rate for someone of Lukaku’s record, age and ability. Don’t forget of course Chelsea paid eighteen million pounds for him as a teenager, sent him on loan for a few seasons and sold him to Everton for twenty eight million pounds, nice business, where he promptly scored sixty eight Premier League goals in one hundred and thirty three appearances, with an average slightly over a goal every two games, and he is still only twenty four.
I watched all of Lukaku’s goals for Everton last night, there are eighty seven in total. My conclusion, Lukaku is a great goal scorer but not a scorer of great goals. He scores scruffy goals, of his eighty seven goals only three were outside of the box. He does his best work inside the six yard box using his pace, enormous physique and strength, and desire to get on the end of things and he is very composed when chances come. He doesn’t lash the ball home, a large amount of his goals are firmly hit side footed shots along the ground.
What do you want from your top striker, twenty plus league goals a season and a decent contribution in the cup competitions? Look at Lukaku’s record for United so far, seventeen league appearances, nine goals, six Champions League appearances, four goals. That’s a great return and twenty league goals a season form.
There are of course a number of reasons that Lukaku is getting so much stick. If he is not scoring he doesn’t appear to contribute. He doesn’t get massively involved in build up play, he plays to his strengths, however, with him on the pitch defenders will know they are in for a tough afternoon because of his physicality and goal threat. He stretches the game pushing defenders back towards their own goal. This gives more space for other players to play and perform. Lukaku does the dirty stuff well, he grafts, closing down defenders and chasing lost causes.
Lukaku started the season so well, ten goals in his first eight Manchester United starts, it’s unrealistic for him to continue in that vein, that rate would net him sixty plus goals in one season, something that has never been done.
He has a reputation as a flat track bully and doesn’t score either against big teams or key goals. However, look at how Jose Mourinho has set up against his top six rivals and it is clear that a clean sheet is his priority, leaving Lukaku feeding on scraps against the best defenders in the League, (Liverpool aside). He has scored the only goal of the game twice , thereby directly contributing to those points earned.
The team isn’t set up for him either. Romelu Lukaku likes crosses and slipped passes into the box but United under Mourinho don’t play that way. It is no surprise to me that Lukaku got his goals early in he season when two clever, creative players with an eye for a killer ball, in Mkhitaryan and Mata were getting a lot more game time than they have in recent games. Rashford and Martial are great attacking players but both see themselves as goal scorers rather than creators. If either of  these players gets a run at goal they will be looking to unleash a shot rather than slip a teammate in. The two best crossers in the club are Valencia and Young. Valencia doesn’t get as forward as much as he use to whether that’s due to manager’s instructions or the fact that his legs won’t do the work for him anymore I’m not sure. Being right footed and playing on the left means that in order to cross the ball, Ashley Young halts play and cuts back onto his right before he crosses it, thus giving defenders time to mark players and regroup, slowing down play and not playing into Lukaku’s strengths.
Romelu Lukaku hasn’t helped himself either, in recent his body language has been poor and his work rate has dropped. His confidence has clearly been hit which means he has frequently taken an extra touch and the chance has gone. This was perfectly illustrated in the recent match against Watford , where despite having time and space in front of goal, he took so long controlling the ball and setting himself he was closed down and the chance went begging. Lukaku has frequently stated that he is a,”student of the game,” which I understand to mean he watches videos and reads about football, so Lukaku will be well aware of the criticism he is receiving but petulant displays like his non-celebration after scoring against Bournemouth won’t help his cause. I get the feeling Lukaku needs to be loved and feel needed n order to thrive, but the Old Trafford faithful give off a sense of demanding expectation and not one of loyal support.
The facts are though, that Lukaku is a good centre-forward, he has scored goals wherever he he has played and at every level, Premier League, Champions League and International. He will score plenty of goals for United make no bones about that.
Nine goals in seventeen games and getting criticism, it just doesn’t add up!

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