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It has been a fairly turbulent few months for Manchester United and the club’s legions of fans.
The summer transfer window was marred by inactivity, with the manager, Jose Mourinho, cutting an increasingly frustrated figure. The start to the Premier League season hasn’t been good either, with many fans seemingly resigned to another year without the title coming back to Old Trafford.
To cap it all off, Paul Pogba, or at least his agent, seems to be agitating for a move to Barcelona.
Indeed, one of the many criticisms levelled at Mourinho currently, is that he no longer develops players, makes them better. The accusation goes that the likes of Eric Bailly, Victor Lindelof, Anthony Marital and, even, Paul Pogba have not developed or, perhaps, regressed under Mourinho’s tutelage.
Lukaku came alive at the World Cup
However, there is one shining example of a player who has earned the respect of his manager, fans and media alike – Romelu Lukaku.
Over the course of last season, the Belgian grew in stature in the eyes of the fans, the media and his manager. Arguably, his best performance of 2018 came in the World Cup quarter-final against Brazil – a truly stunning display in both defence and attack, despite the fact he didn’t make the scoresheet.
So, does Lukaku have the attributes to become a bona fide Manchester United hero? It’s hard to make a judgement after just one full season, but Lukaku is displaying all the hallmarks of a player who is eager to learn and develop his game.
He is insanely dedicated to training, not to mention humble enough to take advice from coaches. Lukaku is still a young player, deceptively young in a way, having recently just turned 25. Jesse Lingard and Paul Pogba, by way of comparison, are both older.
United’s rivals are ones to bet on in Premier League
Obviously, it is important to point out that a player needs to have ‘shared success’ in order to be judged a great.
Basically, Lukaku most win trophies to be remembered as a great Manchester United striker. That doesn’t look too plausible at the moment, with United a massive 40/1 with several top bookmakers to win the Premier League. Compare that to their hated rivals, Man City and Liverpool, coming in at 4/6 and 9/4 respectively with William Hill.
Even when using free bets from the best bookie offers online, you would think twice about backing United for the Champions League (33/1, BetStars). They are 7/1 (Bet365) for the FA Cup, a much more likely trophy for the club, but that is no longer the area where success is judged for this club.
Put simply, Lukaku needs to win Premier League and Champions League titles to be judged a great at Manchester United.
Lukaku driven to succeed
Of course, there is an almost philosophical aspect here. Namely, by becoming a great player for the team, Lukaku could both help make United great again.
That’s certainly true, especially when you can see the growth in the player. With the exception of perhaps Nemanja Matic, it’s clear Mourinho trusts few players like the Belgian. You can also sense that the trust has grown over the last 14 months.
Lukaku, who is already Belgium’s all-time leading scorer, has still room to improve. He has the intelligence – an underappreciated part of his game – and the physicality already, but he may need to work on his first touch and control.
Thankfully, those can be honed, improved upon. Above all though, he can become a leader in this Manchester United team. He is a strong character, a man driven to succeed by his tough upbringing. Can he take a step up? Can he become a great?