Alan Shearer: Manchester United are better going forward without Romelu Lukaku

by Leo Nieboer

Alan Shearer believes Manchester United are a better team without the out-of-form Romelu Lukaku playing up front.

The Belgian, who was left on the bench for Man United’s 2-1 win over Everton, has now gone over 800 minutes without a goal.

United’s movement against Everton – especially between the trifecta of Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial and Juan Mata – was significantly better than normal at times, especially early in the second half.

Speaking after the game, Shearer claimed that United’s build-up play was more sophisticated without Lukaku playing up front.

“I think that when you’ve got midfield runners going beyond you as a forward it takes the defender away from you,” he said.

“Certainly on today’s evidence he [Rashford] offered more going forward and running in behind than we’ve witnessed from Lukaku in the past few games. The accusation with United was that they haven’t played until they’ve gone behind. I thought it was virtually from the off [against Everton] and they looked a lot better.

“Certainly going forward, not defensively – I thought they were very poor again defensively. But that was the difference I thought.

“The first thought was, ‘Can you get it forward? Can you get it wide and when you do, get it into the box.’ They did it for the most part, getting one-on-one, getting people into the box.”

In Marcus Rashford, United had something different at the masthead of attack on Sunday. He tended to float more than the Belgian, affording others the chance to get forward and make inroads in behind the Everton defence.

United’s attack, put simply, felt less predictable. With Lukaku they are guilty of going long too quick, or perhaps slowly working it out wide before sending a useless cross in the striker’s direction. Without him, it felt as if players took more responsibility going forward, working the ball a bit better and, in turn, discovering gaps which Martial exploited with reckless abandon.

Mourinho cannot go the whole season using Lukaku. He will, like most strikers, endure a difficult patch. When that happens, the 55-year-old needs a Plan B.

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