Robbie Fowler questioned the decision to sign Romelu Lukaku – claiming that he is a player that Jose Mourinho has twice turned his back on during his career and therefore is curious to understand why he would suddenly sign him for Manchester United. It is fair to say that the Liverpool legend has been alone in this view, with many pundits seeing the Belgium striker as the ideal addition as the ‘Special One’ looks to replace Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Whilst I understand the reasoning behind Fowler’s comments, I have to say that I do question the need to bring in Lukaku for £75m – given that the club already has Marcus Rashford and Antony Martial who proved they are more than adequate in playing the centre forward role that the former did expertly in Zlatan’s absence at the backend of last season. I just wonder if his arrival will simply have a negative affect – on Rashford in particular.
With Martial seemingly happy to play out on the flank, it is Rashford that has to continually go against his natural striking instinct to play out wide. Although the player himself adapts accordingly and hides his inner frustrations well, there must come a tipping point for Rashford long term – where he will question his future and look for a club that ultimately will utilise him in his best position.
I know fans will look upon the fact that United will have many games next season, with Champions League football returning to Old Trafford, however there is little no question that spending £75m to acquire his services that Lukaku will ultimately be first choice for Jose Mourinho. While there is no doubting Lukaku’s ability, I do find it hard to distinguish the difference between the two players, other than perhaps experience – something that can only come from playing of course. It just feels an unnecessary purchase and one that doesn’t solve our real problems of last season.
Whilst Zlatan Ibrahimovic was sensational last season, his presence highlighted how one-dimensional we became to cater for him. It is no coincidence that when the Swede was out of the team that we looked more fluid in attack and very much the United of old – with the Chelsea game a real highlight. This was all down to having a mobile centre forward in Rashford, who offered a lot more movement alongside Martial and who could open up the defensive backline at will.
The fact of the matter is that Lukaku for all his abilities in front of goal is very much a like for like with Zlatan – where the whole team at Everton was built to provide chances for him. Can Manchester United afford to be so one-dimensional in attack, given we struggled to break down teams for most of last season; hence the amount of draws we got that ultimately cost us a shot at the title. Time will tell of course, but I for one would have given Rashford the number one striking role next season that would not only provided us with multiple options in attack, but saved us £75m as well.