WE need to talk about Romelu.
In Manchester United’s 2-0 loss at Tottenham midweek, Harry Kane did not have his best game but he still outshone Lukaku. The Englishman showed what a top quality striker can bring to his team even on a rare occasion where he left his shooting boots at home.
Kane held the ball up, was intelligent with his runs, harried hard and brought team-mates into play. Romelu just ran around a bit.
In July we talked about the Belgian’s worrying lack of form in big games with just nine goals in 43 games against top six sides – make that nine in 49 now.
But Lukaku was far from being the only bafflingly bad performer at Wembley.
Paul Pogba was anonymous; Alexis Sanchez cut a frustrated figure on his Prem debut for his new side, while Marouane Fellaini ambled around the pitch like a man looking for his lost house keys for seven minutes before going off injured.
Anthony Martial was greedy, Chris Smalling looked scared of the ball, Nemanja Matic looked knackered and then there was Phil Jones. Aaaaah Mr Jones. His wonderful no-look side-foot finish that fizzed past David De Gea was hit sweeter than bees’ vomit. Never change Phil!
Forget this recent defeat – I have to take issue at the extreme collective revisionism that is currently blighting all followers of Manchester United.
With noisy neighbours City reaching decibels levels usually reserved for supersonic jets and space shuttle launches now is not a good time to be a Red Devil. Pep Guardiola’s Etihad side are 15 points clear at the top so it’s a case of when not if they win the title.
Listen to supporters of the red persuasion and you’d think they saw this coming but wind the clock back and it’s a very different reality.
You see in the summer they had just splashed out on £75m on Lukaku; they had a settled Pogba who was quite literally a dab-hand and he was being joined in midfield by Chelsea ace Matic; in Marcus Rashford they had England’s best young player; the Iceman Victor Lindelof had finally been secured in defence and Jose ALWAYS won the title in his second season.
A chipper Mourinho challenged his squad to win a Premier League and FA Cup Double. By November he was moaning United could not possibly compete with the spending power of City.
This was from a man who has spent more on transfers than any other manager in the history of the game – passing the £1BILLION mark last year after landing Lukaku. And the man who sanctioned wages of half a million a week to Sanchez – something even the filthy rich City owners baulked at.
This remarkably lowering of expectations stems from the murmurings of their mardy manager and also No 1 celebrity fan Gary Neville.
Back in August Red Nev said: “I have never seen this league won without power and pace and a really strong spine and it looks like United have got that. They look like they have the attributes to mount a challenge for the title because they seem to have everything. There is no excuse for Manchester United not to challenge for the league . . . with the money that has been spent and the players that have been brought in.”
Last month he tweeted “We should be closer to City irrespective of their incredible run but City did have a better squad than United when Jose came in.”
City may well have players performing better than United now but surely that is down to the manager you know actually managing.
In the summer United fans would have argued that De Gea, Eric Bailly, Pogba, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Martial, Rashford and Lukaku matched or were better than Ederson, Nicolas Otamendi, Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sane, Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero.
But Guardiola has improved ALL his stars, in contrast Mkhitaryan looked as useful as a one legged man in a butt kicking contest and was off-loaded to Arsenal; De Gea and Rashford have stood still and Lukaku is badly lacking confidence.
Only Pogba and Martial have improved and that’s just been in patches, which is why the Old Trafford outfit are so far behind and Jose’s current mood is cranky with a touch of psycho.
AND finally the NET spend of clubs during the 2017-18 season has been released with the Manchester clubs unsurprisingly top with City (£191.7m) edging out United (£127m).
The owners of Liverpool and Arsenal have long been accused of being ‘moneyball’ businessmen and the figures back that up. The Reds (£10m) are 15th on the list, while the Gunners lie third bottom and are in PROFIT to the tune of £7.6m.
Shrewd or so tight that when they take notes out of their pockets the Queen blinks? Depends on whether you’re in the stands or the boardroom.