Sunday’s defeat at the hands of Manchester City was without doubt Romelu Lukaku’s worst performance in a Manchester United to date.
The Belgian hardly covered himself in glory for either of Man City’s goals and missed an easy chance to snatch a late equaliser, firing a close range shot straight at Ederson.
Lukaku has now mustered just one Premier League goal since September and you sense that, with a glut of games on the horizon, he needs some time to watch from the sidelines, recalibrate, and perhaps rediscover that ruthless edge he has missed in recent times.
With that in mind, here is a potential XI for Man United’s game against AFC Bournemouth on Wednesday with Marcus Rashford, who claimed the equaliser against City, starting up front instead of the the 24-year-old.
Perhaps the most worrying aspect of Lukaku’s recent malaise is not the lack of goals in itself, but rather the perceived lack of belief in his demeanour. There were times against Pep Guardiola’s side where he looked aloof, downtrodden, seemingly on the periphery of things by default.
And his overall play reflected exactly that. His touch was weary, his movement predictable, his presence inside the box like that of a single celled organism.
Throwing him back into the deep end so soon against Bournemouth would be unproductive. Mourinho may even be tempted to make him sit out of a handful of games to re-extract the zeal that hallmarked the early stages of his time at the club.