The Treble column: June 22. Manchester United opinion on three topics, every weekday.
Romelu Lukaku is a joke
We tried to warn Chelsea, we really did. And it would be wrong to say we take no pleasure in Romelu Lukaku flopping terribly on his return to Stamford Bridge.
Manchester United turfed Lukaku out in 2019, with it clear he was not good enough to lead the line for the club or score against top Premier League sides.
What was a sensible decision, became a divisive one, for two reasons. (a) United failed to replace him, and (b) Lukaku scored goals for fun at Inter Milan.
But (a) and (b) did not mean Manchester United made the wrong decision to get rid of him, something numerous pundits and newspaper columnists failed to grasp.
Chelsea didn’t get it either. They fell hook, line, and sinker for Lukaku’s Serie A form and splashed a staggering £97.5 million to sign him. It would be tragic if it wasn’t so funny.
Lukaku tried to suggest he was a changed player, telling BBC Sport: “I’m coming back with a lot of experience and more mature.”
Chelsea hailed him as “One of the world’s best strikers and goalscorers”.
His Premier League experience has exposed him. Quite simply, he is not. After being outscored by a veteran Cristiano Ronaldo in Serie A, Lukaku got nowhere near the 37-year-old in England either.
Manchester United have done some bad deals over the years, plenty of them. But Chelsea’s move for Lukaku now takes the crown as the worst ever move in English football.
Lukaku has been sent on loan to his former club for the year. When he returns he will be 30 and still on a gigantic £325,000 per week wages. Inter Milan will be left feeling like they have pulled off the heist of the century.
On his return, Lukaku scored only eight Premier League goals. That’s just three more than Mason Greenwood, who hasn’t kicked a ball since January.
Manchester United were right about Lukaku, and all those suggesting otherwise, have been silenced by the Belgian’s poor form. He ambled round the pitch and barely touched the ball, scoring just one goal against a team finishing inside the league’s top seven.
Lukaku is United’s second most expensive all-time sale at £74 million, and that business looks like a stroke of genius. Chelsea should have seen Lukaku’s poor form coming, because everybody who watched him play for Manchester United, saw it a mile off.
Frenkie de Jong ready to gamble
Manchester United are hoping Frenkie de Jong can be convinced to swap Barcelona for Old Trafford, and he has a big decision to make.
De Jong’s recent holiday trip suggests he might be in the mood to gamble. The Dutchman was pictured in Las Vegas with his partner on his summer break.
Now Manchester United need to roll the dice and pay Barcelona what they want. Negotiations are dragging on.
If De Jong is feeling lucky, he could be convinced to follow Erik ten Hag and gamble on being the men to turn Manchester United’s form around.
Let’s hope so, because United desperately need a new leader in midfield to take the club forward, who knows there is a big challenge ahead, and isn’t afraid of it.
Pick a young goalkeeper to believe in
Manchester United’s proposed interest in Rangers goalkeeper Robby McCrorie feels terribly uninspired. The Scottish Sun report we could bring him in as a back-up option.
No Manchester United fan will be excited about adding Rangers’ third choice goalkeeper to replace Dean Henderson.
It’s time Manchester United show a bit of faith in one of the young goalkeepers at the club and trust them to provide a safe par of hands as back-up.
We have just come off four years of Lee Grant picking up wages for doing very little, which a young goalkeeper could have accomplished.
Matej Kovar and Nathan Bishop are both capable of stepping in, in emergency circumstances, and McCrorie isn’t necessarily much of an upgrade on either.
In the pipeline is promising FA Youth Cup winner Radek Vitek, who could have a big future at Old Trafford.
Instead of loading up the wage bill with additional goalkeepers, as we saw with Tom Heaton and Lee Grant, and now possibly McCrorie, Manchester United must start to trust in one of the young players to develop and sit on the bench as back-up.