Mourinho must persist without Lukaku after improved attacking display

The headline news before Manchester United’s 2-1 win over Everton yesterday was that Romelu Lukaku was dropped for the visit of his former club.
Marcus Rashford got the nod up front and even though the England international only had one clear sight of goal, United’s attack was vastly improved.
We’ve taken a look at why Jose Mourinho must continue without the lumbering Belgian striker in the coming games…

Better movement

(Photo by Tom Purslow/Man Utd via Getty Images)

Although Rashford was starved of service in a side that has got into the very bad habit of playing long balls into Lukaku, his movement in behind created more space in midfield areas for the likes of Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial to take advantage of.
Lukaku often wanders forward as United moves develop, leaving the penalty box vacated; but Rashford bursts into space, not offering defenders a moment’s peace and dragging them out of position.
Given more time to find his feet through the middle after months and months out wide, that relationship between Rashford and the midfield would grow. It certainly has a higher potential for growth than Lukaku’s laboured, lazy style in attack.

Handing the emphasis to Everton

(Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

When Lukaku was introduced after 65 minutes, United suffered a clear loss of attacking impetus. Suddenly, Everton’s defence were able to push higher up, knowing the threat in behind them had disappeared.
Lukaku did not play like a man who had been given a wake-up call and was desperate to prove himself. His touch was as bad as ever, he was frequently beaten in the air and when he was presented with a very simple chance to make it 3-1 late on, he got it hopelessly wrong; completely mistiming his header in amateurish fashion.
There was a marked difference in the United attack in the first 65 minutes, with Rashford on the pitch and the final 25 without him.
Lukaku did absolutely nothing to suggest he should regain his place; he couldn’t even raise himself above his usual low effort levels.

Rashford’s efforts to develop as a striker were stunted by the short-term signing of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and now the cumbersome Lukaku. He deserves a chance centre stage on a regular basis and a spell on the sidelines has been long overdue for the Belgian, who has never really looked good enough to lead United’s attack.

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Sam Preston is an NCTJ gold standard news and sports journalist who studied with the Press Association. He also has a 2:1 law with French law degree from the University of Birmingham, which included a year studying at Bordeaux Montaigne University. He is an FA Level 1 football coach who appeared on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show in 2018 and has also written digital football content and match-day programme pieces for Colchester United, Mansfield Town and Stockport County.