Jose Mourinho has insisted that he isn’t worried about Romelu Lukaku’s poor goalscoring record against top sides.
The Belgian took his season tally to 21 goals last weekend with an impressive brace against Huddersfield Town in the FA Cup and looks on course to reach the 30 mark by the end of the campaign.
However, supporters have expressed acute frustration at Lukaku’s dour performances in front of goal in games against Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur this season.
But Mourinho, speaking at a press conference ahead of Sunday’s clash with Chelsea, insisted he was pleased with the 24-year-old’s progression at Old Trafford.
“I don’t know but I’m not worried, 21 goals is not bad at all and I don’t measure the players’ performances the same way you do,” he said.
“I have other points of analysis and I’m happy with Romelu’s performance when he doesn’t score goals.”
United’s poor record against big sides – especially away from home – is obviously not grounded solely in one player. Managing just one goal away to Manchester City, Tottenham, Liverpool and Chelsea in eight games is part of a wider systemic problem that will hold them back more than any single individual.
That said, Lukaku’s problem against big sides is a very real one. Mourinho may well measure his performances on the basis of more than just goals – and rightly so – but that doesn’t get round the issue of how he seems to retreat into his shell on a more general level against the bigger sides.
No supporter would complain about a lack of goals against big sides if Lukaku contributed going forward in other ways, yet it seems as if, along with his potency in the box, the Belgian’s passing, hold-up play and general physical presence fades as well.
Needless to say, something dramatic has to change if United are to win the league with Lukaku as their primary goal threat.