Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown believes that Jose Mourinho needs to drop Romelu Lukaku for Manchester United’s clash with Watford on Tuesday.
The Belgian enjoyed a scintillating start to life at Old Trafford, netting 11 goals in his opening ten games.
But he has encountered a lapse in form in recent times and only has one goal in all competitions to his name since September.
And Keown, writing in a column for the Daily Mail, has noted that Lukaku could benefit from sitting out of the encounter at Vicarage Road.
“If Jose Mourinho wants to get Romelu Lukaku firing again, he needs his £75million striker to reach boiling point,” he said.
“I am not talking about a petulant reaction to a penalty-box wrestle with an opponent, but rather his performance.
“It might be the right moment to leave him out against Watford on Tuesday. Lukaku has scored a single goal in his last 10 games in all competitions.
“Give him some space so that he comes back an angry man, with some fight and determination. I have described Lukaku as a pussycat, whereas Manchester United want a lion on display (and we all know which animal Zlatan Ibrahimovic likes to compare himself to).
“It is about how you get Lukaku to that stage. He was bought to lead the line and score the goals to win the title. That isn’t happening.”
For a manager, finding out how to return your main striker back to goalscoring form is one of the oldest and more delicate tasks they can face. Dropping them could prove salutary, yet it can very easily have the reverse effect.
And Mourinho’s strategy with Lukaku can definitely be questioned. He has labelled the striker as “untouchable”, just like Louis van Gaal did with Wayne Rooney, and that could prove to be a problem further down the line if he continues to draw blanks whilst simultaneously demonstrating the work rate the 54-year-old demands. We could end up in something of a rut.
The boss is right to say that Lukaku’s form should not be measured by goals alone, but any supporter will tell you that one strike in ten games just isn’t good enough at this level. A balance needs to be found.