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Romelu Lukaku will need ‘thick skin’ and will face ‘unique pressure’ to play for Manchester United

Manchester United sealed a £75 million deal for former Everton striker Romelu Lukaku a week ago today and in that time the Belgian striker has been training with his new teammates and has played his first 45 minutes for his new club, failing to score against LA Galaxy in the first pre-season match of the tour of the United States of America this summer. Lukaku will be due to play for his new club again through the night with United facing Real Salt Lake at the Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah, the second match against an MLS club, both of which are having a turbulent season. Two Manchester United legends, Ryan Giggs and current teammate and captain Michael Carrick have given their insight on the player and what he will face at his new club.

Giggs, a Class of 92 graduate and a one club player has suggested Lukaku will need to ‘develop a thick skin’. The media will scrutinise everything, rival supporters will do the same and those so-called United supporters (we all know some like that) will scrutinise too. As soon as the player does not score, makes a mistake or anything not deemed normal for a £75 million player, they will all criticise the player, thinking they know best and better than anyone else. That sort of moronic mind will spread and the player will be getting criticism from all angles. If he was playing for another club and did something worthy of criticism, nobody would bat an eyelid. Giggs, speaking to Sky Sports News HQ, said:

“He will be under scrutiny that he’s never had before at West Brom, or Chelsea, or Everton. The pressure will be on you. So he needs to develop a thick skin, he needs to listen to the coaches because that’s all that counts really. And if he misses a chance, the next one that comes along he needs to put it away because, as a centre-forward at United, you’re under scrutiny all the time.

“I think he will score goals, but you need goals from all over the park. I’ve seen a bit of [Alvaro] Morata. I’ve seen more of Lukaku. The pluses with Lukaku are obviously that he’s played in the Premier League and Jose [Mourinho] has worked with him before, and he’s got friends. He’s friends with Paul Pogba, and that makes the transition that bit easier.”

Lukaku has Premier League experience playing for Chelsea, West Bromwich Albion and Everton and last season he scored 25 goals for the Goodison Park club, which did not get them into Europe, at least not into the group stages of any competition, instead having to qualify for the UEFA Europa League at the play off stage. Wayne Rooney left United, not before time, heading back to Everton, so his experience of playing in the big competitions may aid Everton’s bid to get into the group stages of the secondary European competition this coming season. Lukaku will play in the UEFA Champions League, aiming to get himself on the elite European stage, which will be good for his development, being that he is just 24 and still has bags of potential and more time to grow in stature as a player.

United teammate and captain Michael Carrick also had some advice for Lukaku, who will at time feel like he has been stabbed in the back by journalists, football supporters and maybe even former teammates of they have the jealousy that he has been rewarded in now playing for the richest football club in the world. Carrick, speaking to The Guardian comparing his switch to United from Tottenham Hotspur spoke about the massive jump needed to get up to speed with everything at the club. He also touched on the fact he came to United after Roy Keane had left and he was compared to the Irish midfielder and expected to fill the void left by him, which he did do, but in his own way. The United captain said:

“The jump is massive. I found that myself coming from Tottenham. It’s a massive jump. You can’t really explain to people until they’ve gone through it. I’m sure he’ll find the same. But having Premier League experience is a massive bonus. He’ll know how things work week to week. It’s just about dealing with the pressure. It’s early days. It’s one week’s training and 45 minutes against Galaxy so you can’t come to any conclusions. 

“We know what he is all about, there are no surprises. We all know exactly what he brings and that is why he is here. He is not going to change his game because he has come here. He does what he does best and obviously, he’s been brought here to score goals. I am pretty certain he will do that this season. 

“When I came it was Roy Keane who came up [in comparison] but I’m my own man. Whoever comes in, you’re always your own man. He’ll be judged like anyone else: on what he does through the season and I’m sure he’s ready for that. The scrutiny will go up a level from what he’s used to. I’m sure he’s prepared for that and I’m sure he will do well.”

Lukaku will have to settle in at United, get up to speed with everything quickly and do his best on the pitch. One thing is for certain if things do not go as planned and he fails to score in matches, as long as he has put in the effort, had the work rate required and has trained to the max, the manager, Jose Mourinho will surely stick up for the player, not join in with the criticism. I am sure Lukaku will be a hit. He will be looking to break his duck in pre-season, perhaps against Real Salt Lake, the club’s second match of their pre-season tour of the United States of America. Perhaps he will be looking towards the matches against Manchester City, Real Madrid and Barcelona, the last three matches of the five match tour of America, to make the point that he has the talent, potential and more importantly the determination to make his move to the biggest club in the world a success.
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