Despite scoring 4 times this season already, Romelu Lukaku’s second term at United is off to a poor start. The United frontman has drawn significant criticism from fans and pundits alike, who view his effort this season as unacceptable.
Lack of effort
It would be ridiculous for the blame for United’s poor early season form to be placed on Romelu Lukaku’s shoulders, however, the former Everton striker has shown why many critics believe he will never be world class.
The Belgian is usually one of the first names on the team sheet for Jose Mourinho, with his tally of 27 goals in his maiden season at the Manchester club isn’t something to be scoffed at.
However, his performances of late have been far below the level that being a United striker commands. The stark difference between his debut season performances and those of late is undoubtedly the blatant lack of effort.
This was perhaps most visible in the West Ham and Valencia games, where his lack of off the ball movement hamstrung United’s already meagre attack.
You would be forgiven for thinking that United’s lack of striking options has led the Belgian to get too comfortable in his position.
Last season fans saw a Romelu Lukaku they hadn’t seen before. He maintained his killer goal scoring instinct, however, he added to his game where critics said he suffered. His notorious inability to hold the ball up was a massive talking point in the media, but the United striker notched nine assists last year, somewhat silencing the critics.
Despite this positive start to his Old Trafford career, the target man looks to have got too comfortable. He has seemingly reverted to the Romelu Lukaku of old, with his glaring inability to complete the most basic tasks such as controlling the ball and holding play up becoming more and more obvious.
This is emblematic of a player who is too confident in his spot on the team. The departure of Zlatan Ibrahimovic meant that there is only one out and out senior striker in the squad. This complacency is bred incompetence and the Belgian leading goal scorer now doesn’t even resemble half the player he has the potential to be.
While United’s lack of central attacking options has been highlighted by the media consistently, perhaps the best replacement for the lackadaisical frontman would be the misfiring Alexis Sanchez.
The Chilean livewire is yet to hit his stride at Old Trafford, but a return to the position where he found great success at previous clubs Arsenal and Barcelona may be what it takes to get him firing.
Since joining, Alexis has gathered a mere three goals and six assists, with even less notable performances.
In pre-season, the former Arsenal hero shone playing through the middle. Although the left wing is his favoured position, it is seemingly not his best position.
If he were to deliver while playing in the middle of a three-pronged attack it could also spell the return of Anthony Martial back into his favoured and most effective position.
Ultimately, something must change, be it in the attack, midfield, defence or everywhere. However, if Mourinho wishes to answer the fan’s pleas of “Attack, attack, attack!”, he should seek to inject some sorely needed life into the club’s attack.