Manchester United kept themselves 11 points behind Manchester City with a tough 2-1 win at West Bromwich Albion and contributing writer, Nathan Quao, of Citi Sports, Accra, Ghana, notes the main talking points from the encounter.
Feed Lukaku and he will score
From struggling to find the net for a period, Romelu Lukaku, found the net for the second straight league match and he repeated his trick from Wednesday with another headed goal.
He is responding to the very difficult experience in the Manchester Derby and it was pleasing to see him do the work he was signed for.
The goals against Bournemouth and West Brom and by extension, all the other ones in the league, only prove that if he is given the service, Lukaku will find the net more regularly.
The manager must see to this and get the rest of the playing body to understand the type of number 9 they are working with.
The goals also put in sharp focus the push for wideman who could cross the ball in the summer. Maybe Man United should have been stronger in their pursuit for Inter Milan’s Ivan Perisic.
However, the other part of the equation lies with Romelu Lukaku himself. Very often, he has given the impression that he is a striker who loves to play the ball and wants to only score with his feet. It is difficult to tell if he is trying to stay away from being typecast as a physical number 9.
Lukaku must see his physique as a gift and he must revel in the chance to use it to his advantage. Defenders are very prepared to use to whatever tools that are available to get their work done.
He must fight back and use what he has been blessed with. It will only give him more options to fight with and keep defenders guessing. His growth as a forward lies in this point.
Rashford must be smarter
While Marcus Rashford may look at this game and say that he set up Lukaku’s first half goal, he should also look at his general output and not be too happy.
While it may be down to the tactics of the opposition or it just happened, he could not exert himself against his opponents and that affected Man United’s attack for large parts of the first half especially.
But this was not the first of such performances. Against Bournemouth, he could not get into a good groove and he was openly frustrated at happenings on the pitch.
He must start playing the game simpler and he needs to always assess situations before going ahead with the execution. There were times in the first half when he was quick to pass or produce a flick but it came to nought.
No one either moved or he just gave the ball without seeing what was going on around him.
When he decided to slow things down and reflect properly, he found Lukaku with a cross.
He has the talent and the potential to grow and succeed in the team but that depends on sharpening his decision-making at all times.
He must learn when to turn on the burners, when to get fancy and what kind of cross to send into the box for maximum effect.
He can look at his cross for Lukaku’s goal for reference. It was not his regular zipped delivery. It was deliberate, targeted and well-weighted for Lukaku. The players who have mastered the art of subtlety have become great.
More control is needed
The nature of the first half display should display should have put the team into a very comfortable space in the second half but then, the absence of seriousness and a killer instinct almost came back to bite the team.
There was no need for the scrambled finish in the second half and it was shocking to see the players showing nerves and disorder in the defence.
There is no need for Man United to invite pressure if there is no wisdom behind it. When the chances present themselves, the opposition must be put away convincingly.
Today, the three points were gained and it was relieving but against another day and at another time, the result could be very different.
Watford almost fought back and West Brom followed their cue.