Rio Ferdinand has hit out at Romelu Lukaku following another no-show in a big game during Manchester United’s 0-0 draw with Sevilla.
The Belgian begun the game encouragingly, hassling the centre-backs with his raw strength, and fired a good chance over the bar following Alexis Sanchez’s superb diagonal ball into the box.
But Lukaku’s influence dramatically faded in the second half, unable to hold up the ball or sprint in behind, and closest he came to scoring was when he bundled home past the keeper having used his arm to control a searching pass from Paul Pogba.
And Ferdinand, speaking on BT Sport, was quick to vent his frustration at what was an ineffective display at No.9.
“It is so frustrating,” he said. “He has all the tools and everything to scare a defender, he is big, strong, quick.”
“He has scored a lot of goals but the big games, big nights, big moments, he needs to produce. [He had] 38 touches and 18 times he gave it away and if you are trying to produce a counter-attacking performance the ball has to stick.
“With Lukaku in the team at the moment, the ball doesn’t stick so the counter-attack doesn’t happen.”
The win over Huddersfield Town and stalemate with Sevilla quite accurately captured the nature of Lukaku’s Old Trafford career up to now: lethal and decisive against lesser sides, blunt-edged when it truly matters.
Of course, he was hardly helped by his teammates. United’s midfield trio may have stamped out the creative threat of Steven N’Zonzi and Ever Banega, but in turn there was precious little synthesis with the attacking trio, an insurmountable gap at the best of times.
Then again, Lukaku was, with just 24 minutes gone, presented with an excellent chance. Just like he was at Anfield and at home to Manchester City. Had he put those opportunities away, the outlook on United’s season would be remarkably different.
Now, ideally, United would create better chances, more chances, and have better movement. This would help Lukaku tenfold. Such is not the case with Jose Mourinho, yet even during United’s worst attacking performances this season there has been a big chance, one moment that could have made all the difference, and Lukaku cannot continue to pass them up.