Gary Neville encourages Jose Mourinho to drop Romelu Lukaku against Liverpool

by Leo Nieboer

Gary Neville has urged Jose Mourinho to play Alexis Sanchez at No.9 against Liverpool next weekend after the Chilean struggled to have an impact out wide during Manchester United’s 3-2 win over Crystal Palace.

The Chilean too often received the ball miles away from the Palace box and, aside from a deflected shot which eventually fell for Lukaku to equalise, had no real presence in the final third.

Lukaku, on the other hand, delivered another combative display up front, claiming his eighth goal in 11 games following some superb control and strength in the box.

But Neville, speaking on Sky Sports after the game, canvassed the idea of Lukaku making way for Sanchez to start up front against Liverpool, with the Belgian receiving a rest ahead of the Sevilla clash next week.

“He played centre-forward a lot for Arsenal, I wonder whether at the weekend against Liverpool, Jose Mourinho might rotate a little bit and play him as a centre-forward,” he said.

“He’s tried him everywhere else and it’s not quite working at the moment and maybe save Lukaku for Sevilla.

“He’s got to try get Alexis into form. I don’t see him as a right-sided player, he’s played on the left tonight and he looked frustrated. He’s got to try get him out of central midfield.”

Dispensing with Lukaku and replacing him with Sanchez at the masthead of attack would, above all, engender a considerable change to the way United attacked.

The 24-year-old’s task, aside from scoring goals, is to bring others into the game by holding the ball and then releasing it at the right time, generally staying level with opposition centre-backs to keep the space in which to attack for others as big as possible.

Sanchez, on the other hand, would be a totally different proposition, sometimes dropping back to get the ball – inviting others, like Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard, to surge forward into the space between Dejan Lovren and Virgil van Dijk – and sometimes playing on the last line of defence, opening up the possibility of balls over the top.

Either way, another feeble attacking start from United would see Liverpool, unlike Palace, take full advantage at the other end, and Mourinho needs to ensure his side knows exactly how they’re going to attack Jurgen Klopp’s side from the first whistle.

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