The time is right for Lukaku, says gaffer Mour­inho

Oman Daily Observer - - FRONT PAGE -

LON­DON: Jose Mour­inho backed Romelu Lukaku to shine against his for­mer club as early Premier League pace-set­ters Manch­ester United host Ever­ton at Old Traf­ford on Sun­day.

United’s league record had been per­fect un­til they were held to a 2-2 draw at Stoke last Saturday, al­though the dis­ap­point­ment of con­ced­ing twice was mit­i­gated by the im­pres­sive scor­ing form of Lukaku and Mar­cus Rash­ford.

Now 24 and with six years of Premier League ex­pe­ri­ence be­hind him, Lukaku is now ready to suc­ceed at the top level ac­cord­ing to his man­ager, un­like in 2011 when he joined Chelsea from An­der­lecht.

“I think Romelu has come here at the right mo­ment,” Mour­inho said. “He is a good age. He has a good num­ber of years of ex­pe­ri­ence with dif­fer­ent clubs in the Premier League. He is clearly a player who has adapted to the Premier League.

“He has good friends al­ready in the dress­ing room and has had an easy in­te­gra­tion into our group. The way the team is try­ing to play has good re­la­tion to his qual­i­ties as a player. So I think he has come at the right mo­ment of his ca­reer.”

Lukaku’s strong start to life at Old Traf­ford, he has six goals in six games for United, will help to off­set the ab­sence of France mid­fielder Paul Pogba, who may be out for sev­eral weeks. Pogba’s ham­string in­jury, sus­tained in the early stages of Tues­day’s 3-0 Cham­pi­ons League vic­tory over Basel, will cer­tainly keep him out of Sun­day’s match, and there is no guar­an­tee that he will be avail­able for France’s de­ci­sive World Cup qual­i­fiers against Bul­garia and Be­larus in Oc­to­ber.

It is a sig­nif­i­cant set­back for United, who started the week­end on top of the Premier League af­ter col­lect­ing 10 points from their open­ing four matches.

Phil Jones and Eric Bailly are set to re­turn in cen­tral de­fence, hav­ing missed the win over Basel through sus­pen­sion, while An­to­nio Va­len­cia should be re­stored at right-back, hav­ing made way on Tues­day as Ash­ley Young played for the first time since re­cov­er­ing from a sum­mer op­er­a­tion on a ham­string problem.

KOE­MAN MEET­ING Wayne Rooney’s re­turn to Goodison Park from United — re­plac­ing Lukaku — has not gone as well as the Bel­gian’s move de­spite scor­ing in his first two league matches this sea­son.

The Tof­fees have not won in five matches in all com­pe­ti­tions be­fore Sun­day’s clash fol­low­ing Thurs­day’s 3-0 drub­bing by Ata­lanta in the Europa League.

Ever­ton man­ager Ron­ald Koe­man re­vealed he would hold a meet­ing with his se­nior play­ers to try to get their sea­son back on track be­fore the trip to Old Traf­ford.

Koe­man planned to get Rooney, Leighton Baines and Ash­ley Wil­liams, among oth­ers, to­gether at their Finch Farm train­ing base in the hope of get­ting a re­ac­tion against United. “I will have a meet­ing with most of the play­ers, with the key play­ers,” Koe­man said.

“It’s time for the ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers to stand up. I am wor­ried about what I saw against Ata­lanta. It was a wake-up call. “I saw the team with a lot of doubts. One of our strengths of last sea­son is we had a good de­fen­sive or­gan­i­sa­tion and we have lost our strength.”

Koe­man, who has no fresh in­jury con­cerns be­fore the match, warned that Lukaku could tear his team apart if they do not im­prove dra­mat­i­cally at Old Traf­ford.

— AFP

Manch­ester United striker Romelu Lukaku cel­e­brates scor­ing his team’s sec­ond goal dur­ing the UEFA Cham­pi­ons League Group A match against Basel at Old Traf­ford in Manch­ester.

— AFP

Manch­ester United man­ager Jose Mour­inho leaves fol­low­ing the UEFA Cham­pi­ons League Group A match be­tween Manch­ester United and Basel at Old Traf­ford in Manch­ester. Manch­ester United won 3-0.

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