Giggs: Lukaku will make United ex­cit­ing again

Club leg­end be­lieves the Bel­gian will re­vive Old Traf­ford’s sig­na­ture style, he tells Chris Bas­combe

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Sport -

Ryan Giggs says Romelu Lukaku can be the cat­a­lyst for Manch­ester United to play a more free-flow­ing brand of foot­ball this sea­son. The United leg­end has warned Lukaku he will be un­der more scru­tiny at Old Traf­ford than at any time in his ca­reer, but he has called on oth­ers to raise their game to sup­port the £90 mil­lion striker.

Af­ter a year of re­build­ing in Jose Mour­inho’s first sea­son in charge, Giggs ex­pects a more ruth­less United com­pet­ing for the ti­tle.

“The main rea­son Jose bought Lukaku is for goals and to turn all those draws at Old Traf­ford into wins,” said Giggs. “There will be a lot of pres­sure and scru­tiny on him but those around him also need to step up and score more. Juan Mata did his fair share, but [Anthony] Mar­tial, Mar­cus [Rash­ford] and [Hen­rikh] Mkhi­taryan have got to get dou­ble fig­ures. So although the most pres­sure will be on Lukaku, the onus is on the whole team.

“I’ve been in­ter­ested in how Jose has played Lukaku and Mar­tial up front in pre-sea­son. He will have an­a­lysed last sea­son and seen how in some games you need two up front, and maybe with Mata or Mkhi­taryan play­ing be­hind. That is some­thing we did not see last year. Jose is a win­ner and will see where it can im­prove and tweak­ing the sys­tem can do that.”

Lukaku fol­lows an il­lus­tri­ous tra­di­tion of United strik­ers and Giggs wants the Bel­gian to em­brace the weight of the red shirt.

“You can only tell in the games whether a player has what it takes,” said Giggs. “There are some games where you are try­ing to break a side down – like when United played Burn­ley last sea­son – and you hear the groans in the sta­dium af­ter the first mis­placed pass or chance. That is what you have to deal with.

“Michael Owen, Andy Cole, Ruud van Nis­tel­rooy and all those great strik­ers missed chances but their men­tal­ity was ‘next time, I will score’. Ev­ery­one knows Lukaku can score, but it’s about the men­tal strength to be­lieve if you miss a chance, or go a few games with­out a goal, the goal will come. If you have that you can get 25 goals or more. Ex­pe­ri­ence helps. At United you have had play­ers like [Zla­tan] Ibrahi­movic or [Robin] Van Per­sie come in and im­me­di­ately think ‘this is the place for me’.

“The cen­tre for­wards of United come un­der pres­sure if they do not score. At an­other club you can go a few games with­out scor­ing and it is un­der the radar. Not at United. He is go­ing to have to deal with that, but the flip side is he will get far more chances than he did at Ever­ton and West Brom be­cause at Old Traf­ford they will be con­stantly go­ing for­ward. I look back to that Burn­ley game last sea­son when they had 30 shots. He will score a lot of goals, but it is the big­ger games and the away games where judge­ments will be made.”

While Lukaku seeks to follow a dis­tin­guished line of United goalscor­ers, Giggs paid trib­ute to the de­parted Wayne Rooney for help­ing the club through the dif­fi­cult re­con­struc­tion process fol­low­ing Sir Alex Fer­gu­son’s re­tire­ment.

Giggs is sure Rooney – United’s record goalscorer – will re­ceive an ap­pre­cia­tive re­sponse when he re­turns in Ever­ton colours in Septem­ber.

“I saw first hand the help he gave the likes of Mar­cus Rash­ford when he was com­ing through,” said Giggs. “It was not just the young play­ers, but ev­ery­one who came to the club.

“Wayne was the leader in the dress­ing room and when Sir Alex left a lot of lead­ers left like Rio [Fer­di­nand], [Ne­manja] Vidic, Gary Neville, [Pa­trice] Evra and I re­tired as a player. That was a lot in a short space of time and he and Michael Car­rick took on the man­tle of mak­ing sure ev­ery­one knew what it meant to be a Manch­ester United player.

“He beat a record many peo­ple thought would not be beaten. To go past Bobby [Charl­ton] you not only have to be at the club for a long time but be ca­pa­ble of deal­ing with all that pres­sure.”

‘There will be a lot of scru­tiny on him but oth­ers need to step up and score more’

Ryan Giggs is en­cour­ag­ing the pub­lic to nom­i­nate their grass­roots foot­ball cham­pion in the Peo­ple’s Award for the 2017 McDon­ald’s Com­mu­nity Awards. To cast your vote please visit www.mcdon­alds.co.uk/awards

At­tack­ing in­tent: Ryan Giggs thinks play­ing two up front would ben­e­fit Jose Mour­inho’s side next sea­son

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