Jose Mourinho noted after Manchester United’s 0-1 defeat to Juventus that Romelu Lukaku was struggling to link up with his teammates.
The Belgian once again came under fire for an ineffective display against Juventus during which he failed to have an impact in the box whatsoever.
He has not scored a goal at Old Trafford since Man United’s 2-0 win over Swansea City in March – a total of ten games.
Speaking after the defeat, Mourinho conceded that the 25-year-old was failing to properly connect with the rest of the team.
“No critics at all, a complete understanding the player is a fantastic professional that wants to give everything for the team but I have to agree his moment is not sweet,” he said.
“Not just with the goals that he is not scoring but also in his confidence, in his movement, in his touch, he is not linking the game well with the team. But he’s our striker and a good striker and a striker we believe in.
“Could I play Rashford there? But then I don’t have a winger because in this moment we are in this difficult situation. He (Lukaku) is a hard-working guy, is a good professional, but one day the goal will arrive and the confidence will be back.”
Playing as a striker requires an element of momentum. You need to be operating in conjunction with the game’s rhythm – with the direction of your teammates – in order to arrive in the box at the right time and cause problems. If you cannot enter that flow with the rest of your team, the attack becomes a blunt instrument, and you become a bystander on the pitch.
Such is the case with Lukaku, whose movement along the last man and in the box feels all kinds of wrong at the moment. Mourinho, of course, has to take blame for creating a system devoid of synchronicity and plagued with doubt. But Lukaku will also know he can do a lot better.