Football

Lukaku under fire after woeful display

Sutton slams his lack of effort, Shearer criticises striker's movement

Premier League pundits rounded on Romelu Lukaku's performance in Manchester United's 1-0 loss at Chelsea yesterday morning (Singapore time).

Chris Sutton accused the striker of lacking effort, Ian Wright felt he was making the wrong moves and Alan Shearer said he was not helping himself and his team.

The criticism comes just a week after United manager Jose Mourinho accused United fans of being unfair to the 24-year-old and not supporting him enough.

But, United's £75 million (S$133.8m) summer signing from Everton has failed to score in his last seven matches, after 11 goals in his first 10 games.

During his barren run, Lukaku's passing accuracy has dropped, he is taking less shots, hitting the target less with his attempts and creating fewer chances for his teammates.

Against Chelsea, he did not touch the ball in Chelsea's penalty box.

Former Blues striker Sutton wrote in his column for the Daily Mail: "Lukaku is one of the most physically imposing forwards in the Premier League.

"Yet, he was bullied all afternoon by Andreas Christensen - on only his fourth league start for Chelsea - and Cesar Azpilicueta, who is almost half a foot shorter.

"The accusation levelled at Lukaku is that he does not turn up for the big games. I do not like calling players out for a lack of effort, but on this evidence, it is hard to argue."

Shearer, the Premier League's record goalscorer with 260 goals, said Lukaku's movement is not helping his team.

He told the BBC: "He's going deep, he's going out wide. He's not helping himself and he's certainly not helping his team.

"It's not his job to go deep and create. Width of the 18-yard box, that's where he's most dangerous...

"When you're on a barren spell, forget everything about going out wide, about coming deep, thinking I'm not getting a touch of the ball.

"It's time to be selfish."

Ex-Arsenal striker Wright agreed with Shearer, but pointed to the lack of supply.

He told the BBC: "I do feel for him. He seems to be making the wrong moves and the chances aren't coming.

"(Henrikh) Mkhitaryan had six passes to him today as their attacking midfielder. That is nowhere near good enough."

Gary Neville, who criticised Lukaku's effort and mentality after big matches against Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool, agreed that Mkhitaryan and his fellow midfielders struggled against Chelsea.

The ex-United stalwart told Sky Sports: "I thought they got killed in midfield...

"I thought (Ander) Herrera, (Nemanja) Matic and Mkhitaryan got absolutely ambushed.

"I think (Paul) Pogba is a big miss because of his confidence and arrogance. He takes the ball into tight areas, holds the ball, beats a man.

"Michael Carrick, too - he delivers those passes up to strikers, to the side of defenders, and I think those two players would have made a big difference."

Mourinho, however, refused to criticise Lukaku for his lacklustre performance against Chelsea.

Reminded of the Belgium international's woeful statistics in the match, Mourinho said: "I don't want to talk about stats.

"On the bench, it's a different perspective.

"I am happy with his (Lukaku's) effort, attitude and desire. He had a chance with a good shot, the goalkeeper saved.

"He gave space for (Anthony) Martial and (Marcus) Rashford in the closing stages. I'm happy and don't want to go in the direction of stats," he added.

- WIRE SERVICES

Romelu LukakuManchester UnitedCHELSEA (EPL)