Romelu Lukaku should have scored against Southampton on Saturday before going off with a head injury. If he’d scored, would he have celebrated?
When he scored the winner against Bournemouth he didn’t and when he scored the opening goal against West Brom, a club he had spent time on loan with, he didn’t celebrate either. However, he didn’t look pretty chuffed when Jesse Lingard’s goal went in.
There were suggestions the lack of celebration was down to the criticism he’s received for going through a dry spell and not playing particularly well. Given he had played every minute of Premier League football this season before today, it is no surprise that he is exhausted.
The fans have largely been on side though. While social media might have supporters giving him a hard time, inside the ground, the fans have rallied around him. Jose Mourinho claimed otherwise but supporters were baffled about where that came from.
On Saturday afternoon, ahead of the 0-0 draw with Southampton, Gary Neville discussed Lukaku’s decision not to celebrate at Hotel Football.
Lukaku’s got a bit of stick recently for not celebrating. I find it really difficult to see a Manchester United player not celebrate a goal. If Sir Alex saw players not celebrating a goal, and I don’t just mean the player who scored, I’m talking about players who didn’t score not going over and congratulating the goalscorer, it was a problem. It means you’re not feeling what the crowd is feeling, what everyone should be feeling.
I don’t know how you manage your emotion. Even anger is OK. Anger on a goal, frustration on a goal, getting back to the half-way line if you need to score another goal, but showing no emotion? I find it really difficult.
I saw on social media people saying he didn’t celebrate because of the criticism he’s had recently. I just find it really difficult. Everyone wants him to do well and everyone wants to see him succeed. His idea that people want him to be a failure and don’t want him to succeed, the world is against him, I don’t get it. You’re thinking too much. Just enjoy it. When you were a kid and you scored in the playground, you celebrated. Don’t change now.
While Ferguson might have challenged players who didn’t celebrate goals, Jose Mourinho is in no position to do such a thing. When United won the EFL Cup in February, Mourinho not only failed to celebrate, but he couldn’t even smile.
We see this from the manager time and again. When the television cameras replay the goals, they will film Mourinho’s reaction, and if you didn’t know a goal had gone in, you would never know that it had judging by Mourinho’s reaction. He’ll sit there as if nothing has happened.
He rarely goes potty when we score. He even managed to hold it in when we scored in the Europa League final, waiting for the full-time whistle to go before he allowed his emotion to overspill.
But does it matter?
I’m not sure how much of a problem it really is.
I’ve sat in the home end at the Etihad before now on derby day. I had to sit on my hands just to stop myself reacting when a throw-in went their way when it was a red ball. When we scored, it was unbearable. Everything in you wants to go crazy.
As a fan, you want your players and manager to react in a natural way. Naturally, they should be happy to score or to see the team score. I’d much rather Ferguson’s approach but essentially the only really important thing is that we do score. Lukaku missed an easy opportunity against Southampton. I’d much rather be talking about him not celebrating a goal he had scored than wondering how he managed not to put the chance away.
We’ll have to wait at least two games, according to Mourinho, to see whether Lukaku can start finding the back of the net again though.