Manchester United’s decision to sell Romelu Lukaku in August was ‘downright foolish’, according to The Telegraph’s Sam Dean.
Whilst United have struggled for goals in the Premier League, having scored just 36 in 25 games, Lukaku has scored 21 in 30, spearheading new club Inter Milan to the top of Serie A.
And what is curious about Lukaku’s incredible start to life in Italy is not just the number of goals, but the type: long range shots, solo efforts, penalties, headers and of course, tap ins – exactly the kind of goal that United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer recently bemoaned that his side is incapable of producing.
Lukaku is looking in Italy like the kind of player ‘who wants to break their nose to score a goal’ as the Norwegian famously demanded last month.
The fact that the Red Devils were thrashing around shambolically for that kind of striker on deadline day six months after Lukaku’s departure really does make the decision to sell Lukaku appear foolish as the reporter claims.
‘That is embarrassing enough for a club of United’s stature, but Lukaku’s sensational form is yet more damning because it only serves to prove how misused, and indeed misunderstood, he was by the club’s coaching staff’ he muses.
Lukaku himself has pointed out that he is now being used correctly, where at United he was playing in a role that didn’t bring out the best of him. ‘A lot of people try to make me the player that I’m not … they think that I’m like the traditional big guy, who posts up all the defenders, holds the ball and then plays it and brings in other players. Well, I’m not that type of dude… I need to face the goal. That’s when I’m dangerous’.
Of course, Solskjaer’s reasons for selling the Belgian may not have all been about playing ability. Even as far back as April of last year, The Independent’s Miguel Delaney was predicting the player’s exit, suggesting that he was an unsettling influence in the dressing room.
And yet whilst many United fans gave the manager the benefit of the doubt for making that decision, with team spirit being seen as more important, it does all appear to have backfired now, with Fred this week claiming in an interview that the dressing room is as fractious as ever.
Perhaps we need to face facts: that Lukaku and those still unsettled in the United dressing room have been simply frustrated because they are not being used correctly and that the tactics being issued by the coaches are quite simply naïve.
When Delaney wrote that April article, he reported that Solskjaer may already have been losing the dressing room, with players ‘doubting his tactics’. That has been a recurring theme since and recently reports have emerged about players’ doubts over one of Olé’s lieutenants, Kieran McKenna, and his ‘too basic and very British’ training methods.
Such issues must seem like a distant memory now to happy Lukaku. Having beaten Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s AC Milan 4-2 in a thrilling derby this weekend, he sinply tweeted ‘There’s a new king in town’.