By Mark Weasley
Manchester United announced the signing of Romelu Lukaku in a £75m deal last week to trump Chelsea to the signing of the 24-year-old Belgian. The former Everton man had looked set for a move to Stamford Bridge, but following The Blues’ indecisive action he opted to switch to The Theatre of Dreams much to the chagrin of Chelsea manager, Antonio Conte.
The Italian, who won the league in his first year of English football, had identified the powerful striker as his number 1 priority signing as he had decided to dispense with Diego Costa.
Jose Mourinho guided United to three trophies last term but still finished a disappointing 6th in the league as the club struggled in matches against the smaller teams. Games that should have ended up in wins turned into draws, and despite an impressive 25-match unbeaten run, the club couldn’t mount any serious title challenge.
For £75m, Lukaku is expected to come up with the goods at every point in time, but his record against the top teams doesn’t really inspire confidence. Since the start of the 2014/15 season, he has only scored 5 goals in 35 matches against the top 6, damning statistics for a player of his stature. He is known as a flat track bully, always turning up against the smaller teams and bottling it against the bigger boys.
For a player who has 85 Premier League goals in 5 years, it is shocking to see that Lukaku doesn’t always come to the party when it matters most, and it’s for those moments that United bought him for.
£75m needs to compete with the best and there will be no excuse if he fails to improve on his record against United’s main rivals.
He can be excused that while at Everton, he was always double marked by the big teams to nullify his effect, but no such excuse will be tenable at United. The supporting cast means that there be more chances to score and deliver, and that includes performing well against teams around United.