Jose Mourinho’s sergeant: Romelu Lukaku and the Manchester United captaincy

Michael Carrick has called time on his career after spending 12 years at Manchester United. Following Wayne Rooney’s departure from Old Trafford in 2017, Carrick was announced as club captain. Having been one of the most experienced players and a natural leader it made sense to make him club captain although he wouldn’t have featured much due to his age. There are many candidates for the role of club captain at the club already.

Antonio Valencia is the most likely as he wore the armband more often than anyone else in the 2017/2018 season. Ashley Young wore the armband numerous times and even Paul Pogba has led the team at times. There are doubts about the names mentioned so far being the captain of Manchester United football club. United could have been accused last season of having lacked leadership on the field. One man who has improved his overall game both on and off the field is Romelu Lukaku.

Currently, he is in the FIFA World Cup semi-finals with Belgium and he remains an instrumental figure. Although his overall play including his touch, hold up play, intelligence has greatly improved. Lukaku is also notably demonstrating his leadership skills. There have been many images and videos broadcasted around the media of Romelu Lukaku giving the team talks in a squad that consists of very experienced players such as Vincent Kompany, Jan Vertonghen, and Toby Alderweireld.

Although Lukaku is a natural striker who scores goals, he is a lot more than that. In his first season at Manchester United, he has celebrated his assists as passionately as his goals. Lukaku is unlike other United striking greats where that once he is scoring goals he is doing a good job. Lukaku does want to score goals and he has done with 27 goals in his debut season for the reds. However, he also wants his all-round game to be successful. Roberto Martinez has played Lukaku on the right at spells during this World Cup.

This is to allow Eden Hazard to play on the left and Kevin De Bruyne to play through the centre as a false nine. Now, how many strikers would be happy to do that? It would be hard to imagine the likes of Harry Kane or Robert Lewandowski comfortably playing in this kind of role without a problem. Lukaku’s ability to put the team before himself proves he has qualities that would make him a great United captain. In an interview with Sky Sports, Lukaku discussed his role in Mourinho’s squad and clearly, he fancies himself as a leader in the team. He said:

“I think the manager in his mind thinks that I’m like his sergeant on the pitch.”

After the performances and the way Lukaku has carried himself, it is fair to say that he is right. The Belgian is a vital cog in Mourinho’s engine when he has been absent United lacked not only a vocal point but also a direction, something Lukaku does as a leader. His personality is always uplifting on the field and he clearly gets on with the whole United squad.

Through performances and the qualities Lukaku has demonstrated through last season and even in this World Cup, he has put himself forward as a possible candidate for United Captaincy. Whether Lukaku gets the role or not is one thing, however, what is certain is that the striker will continue to score goals, work for his team and encourage those around him.

Written by Shane Purcell

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