Another summer of big spending from Manchester United saw Jose Mourinho spend £75 million on the signing of Romelu Lukaku from Everton. The Belgian striker hit the ground running at Old Trafford scoring seven goals in his first seven games for the Red Devils, a record matched by Andy Cole. Lukaku is leading the way at the top of the list for the Golden Boot, and he is one goal ahead of Manchester City trio, Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus.
Lukaku has the Potential
With over 90 goals already, there is no doubt that the 24-year-old has the potential to become one of the greatest Premier League strikers ever, but he is still yet to prove himself against the top teams. Everton fans were quick to point this out after selling their star striker, as his track record was very poor during his time on Merseyside. Teams associated with the so-called “big six” are Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham. And in 58 matches against these “big six” clubs, Lukaku has only hit the back of the net on just 15 occasions. While Lukaku says he isn’t concerned with his performances against the big boys, it seems as though he should be.
With no goals in six games against Chelsea, and only scoring once in eight games against Tottenham, the Belgian seems to be struggling to find the back of the net on the big stage. However, for a top centre-forward, this shouldn’t be an excuse for lack of goals. Fans as they have struggled in recent years to find a striker who has been able to convert their great chances in goals and points. Zlatan Ibrahimović missed more opportunities last term than any other top-flight player, and Lukaku was signed at the beginning of this campaign to put an end to the number of wasted chances.
Can Lukaku Find the Net with Mourinho’s Style?
With Paul Pogba and several other brilliant playmakers behind him in Mourinho’s side, the former Chelsea striker will now have plenty of great passes to feed off, something that he may have struggled to find at West Brom and Everton due to the gulf in class. However, as a manager, Jose Mourinho is known to play a very defensive (and somewhat controversial) style against the bigger teams, often called the ‘park the bus’ approach.
This was typified against Liverpool at Anfield in their eighth game of the season as many of the Red Devil fans were left frustrated due to their side’s lack of creativity. With just 35% possession and one shot on target, it wasn’t the best game for Lukaku to get on the scoresheet. And even though Mourinho has defended his approach following the Anfield stalemate, it is difficult for the new striker to see no intent when facing a team that may be beaten with the intelligent attacking force they have shown this season.
The Biggest Test Is Yet to Come
Two of the biggest tests they will face this term come in their next four league matches. Manchester United host Tottenham on the 28th October, before making the trip to Stamford Bridge a week later to face Mourinho’s former employers, Chelsea. Both fixtures pose a chance for Lukaku to prove himself in the big games, as well as giving Mourinho a chance to set the record straight regarding his defensive strategy against England’s most prominent teams.
The manager hasn’t won a Premier League game against the ‘big six’ since 2014, a run that lasts almost three years. In that time, he has managed ten matches against five of the “big six” and has lost half of them. While they are currently second favourites to win the Premier League behind Manchester City, if they are to be crowned champions in May, they need to improve in the big games. Keep up to date and find the latest football odds on Betsafe.
Only Time Will Tell
With only a handful of games for the Red Devils under his belt, Romelu Lukaku still needs time to perform in the big matches as a Manchester United player. While Jose Mourinho’s defensive game plan against the “big six” can stifle his chances, Lukaku still needs to take every opportunity. If the Belgian can hit the net in the upcoming clash against Tottenham, it will go a long way in silencing the critics and show that Lukaku may have finally arrived on the big stage.