Pundit and former footballer Tony Cascarino has had his say on Jose Mourinho’s current striker dilemma, believing that Romelu Lukaku is under more pressure since Zlatan Ibrahimovic has become fit.
Manchester United’s Lukaku had been in fine form at the start of the season but has seen his performances dip recently.
The Belgian has clearly missed Paul Pogba’s presence on the pitch but now also faces the stiff competition of rivalling Ibrahimovic for the same position.
Zlatan was out for a heft period of football but did return ahead of schedule in order to fight for a first team spot with Romelu’s position under threat.
Cascarino believes there’s only two ways this could go but appeared to hint that the former Everton man is under even more pressure to deliver now that the Swede is breathing down his neck.
Speaking to the Times, Tony said: “Romelu Lukaku faces a new reality now that Zlatan Ibrahimovic is fit.
“In the absence of the injured Swede, Lukaku has expected to stay on the pitch for 90 minutes whatever happens, but now he faces the prospect of being substituted with 20 minutes left if he is not delivering the goods.
“That can go two ways: it might inspire him to lift his performance, or it could demoralise him. Alternatively, Mourinho could have both of his strikers on the pitch, as he did last night.
“Two big centre forwards can play effectively together – I loved having a strike partner with a strong physical presence alongside me.”
With Mourinho deciding to play with a single striker formation, many anticipated Lukaku to be his first choice forward but with Ibrahimovic’s return from injury, Romelu may be forced into sharing minutes.
The former PSG man’s leadership is clear to all supporters and Jose may turn to the more experienced striker during crucial moments of United’s season.
Playing alongside each other may make some sense and there have been calls for playing Zlatan in behind the striker but so far fans have seen a different tactic employed.
Ibrahimovic has played as a striker and has shifted Lukaku out wide whenever he’s on the field and while it has been for large periods of matches, supporters have been concerned on whether the tactic will work in the long term.