Lukaku set Rooney tar­get by Mour­inho

The Borneo Post (Sabah) - - SPORT -

MANCH­ESTER (United King­dom): Jose Mour­inho has sug­gested that Romelu Lukaku will strug­gle to match Wayne Rooney’s Manch­ester United achieve­ments, be­cause the Premier League has become a much more de­mand­ing com­pe­ti­tion.

Lukaku has made an im­pres­sive start to his United ca­reer since ar­riv­ing from Ever­ton for £75mil­lion in July, a day af­ter Rooney made the move in the op­po­site di­rec­tion.

The 24-year-old has scored six times in his first six ap­pear­ances for United, in ad­di­tion to scor­ing the goal against Greece in early Septem­ber that se­cured Bel­gium’s place at next year’s World Cup fi­nals.

He faces a ma­jor chal­lenge, though, to match Rooney, who left Ever­ton for United and be­came their all-time record scorer, with 253 goals dur­ing his 13 years at Old Traf­ford, win­ning the Cham­pi­ons League once and the Premier League five times.

The for­mer Eng­land cap­tain was only 18 when he ar­rived at United from Ever­ton for £25.6m in Au­gust 2004, and Mour­inho does not be­lieve Lukaku will have the time to match Rooney’s achieve­ments.

The Bel­gian how­ever did score 87 goals in 166 Ever­ton games.

United’s man­ager also ar­gues that Rooney had an eas­ier job scor­ing goals at United, be­cause the Premier League was a more at­tack-minded com­pe­ti­tion for much of his time at the club.

Mour­inho said: “I think Wayne spent prob­a­bly 10 years of his ca­reer in a dif­fer­ent Premier League than you have now.

“It was a Premier League where it was eas­ier to score goals, not just be­cause of the dif­fer­ence be­tween the top teams and oth­ers but also be­cause of the pro­file and the tac­ti­cal in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the com­pe­ti­tion. I think this Premier League is much more de­fen­sive-minded, and much more dif­fi­cult.”

Even so, Mour­inho is of the view that Lukaku will con­tinue to ben­e­fit from play­ing in a United side who carry more at­tack­ing threat than they did last sea­son.

The United man­ager is in­sis­tent that his team’s suc­cess or fail­ure will not de­pend solely on the form of their main striker, point­ing out that they only fin­ished sixth in the Premier League last sea­son de­spite the con­tri­bu­tion of Zla­tan Ibrahi­movic, who scored 28 goals in all com­pe­ti­tions.

Ibrahi­movic, who is re­cov­er­ing from cru­ci­ate knee lig­a­ment dam­age, is likely to play a sig­nif­i­cant part in the se­cond half of the sea­son af­ter sign­ing a new one-year con­tract in Au­gust, of­fer­ing Lukaku com­pe­ti­tion for his place in United’s at­tack.

“It’s not just about the striker,” Mour­inho said. “A striker is very im­por­tant but last sea­son we had a very good striker for two-thirds of the sea­son and that was not enough to win the ti­tle.

“So it’s not just the striker. I think that Romelu has a bet­ter team than Zla­tan had. Romelu’s team plays dif­fer­ent foot­ball and the con­fi­dence lev­els are dif­fer­ent and it is a team in the se­cond year of its evo­lu­tion in some as­pects.

“But I think he also de­serves credit for that be­cause of the way he plays, the way he is com­mit­ted, what he does with and with­out the ball, not just the last touch and the goal but his over­all con­tri­bu­tion. We couldn’t be hap­pier.”

Mour­inho re­fused to en­ter into any de­bate as to how Lukaku and Ibrahi­movic com­pare.

He said: “I am not go­ing to com­pare. I think it’s very stupid to com­pare the in­com­pa­ra­ble. When play­ers are sim­i­lar, you can com­pare. When play­ers are so dif­fer­ent, there is no point in com­par­ing. I am not go­ing to do that.” - AFP

Manch­ester United’s Bel­gian striker Romelu Lukaku (C) heads the ball to score his team’s se­cond goal dur­ing the UEFA Cham­pi­ons League Group A foot­ball match be­tween Manch­ester United and Basel at Old Traf­ford in Manch­ester, north west Eng­land. - AFP photo

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