Manchester United let rip on Romelu Lukaku after the Belgian demonstrated a perceived lack of effort from the bench against Leicester City.
The Belgian has only started three games under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – twice in the FA Cup and once in the Premier League – amid Marcus Rashford’s spell of excellent form at No.9.
And the events of Sunday will only further hamper Lukaku’s cause: Rashford scored a wonderful goal, while Lukaku came on and looked leaden-footed, failing to make runs down the channels you’d expect any striker to make.
Supporters were quick to jump on the 25-year-old’s back once again.
Serious issues with Lukaku. Only been on five minutes and he looked like Gemma Collins sprinting up the stairs. If you can't come on and put the effort in we should give Greenwood a chance
— Mark Goldbridge (@markgoldbridge) February 4, 2019
Lukaku stood waiting for that ball to come to him is pathetic. He’s gotta be livelier there
— Jay Motty (@JayMotty) February 3, 2019
I really really want Lukaku to do well but every time he comes on, I find myself rolling my eyes most of the time. The ball just bounces off him, such a lack of control and energy. Not what you need when trying to see a game out like today.
— Aoife 'FIFA' Turner (@AoifeTurner) February 3, 2019
Lukaku the fucking LUMP! Young on the ball he’s gotta run the channel! SHIT GUY! #LEIMUN
— Rants (@rantsnbants) February 3, 2019
It really did feel like the forward had a piano on his back against Leicester. While Rashford darted around, Lukaku lumbered. The difference in urgency and spirit was profound.
But why? Well, firstly, it is not because of any lack of fitness. If Lukaku wasn’t fit enough he would simply not be in the squad.
The problems are, unfortunately, completely psychological. That painfully slow movement, the lack of touch, the inherent onerousness in everything he seems to do: this is what having no confidence does to you.
Lukaku can practice as much as he likes in training but nothing fundamental will change until he feels like himself on the pitch again.
That will be hard for a player who, from 2014 up until now, could always bank on being first choice. He’s miles away from that at Old Trafford. And it will take one big psychological leap before anything can change.