Football

Man United manager Mourinho backs misfiring Lukaku

United manager jokes that his striker will find the net regularly once boot contract is sorted

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho is confident that Romelu Lukaku's problems in front of goal will end - as soon as he secures a new boot deal.

Lukaku laid on a goal for Anthony Martial in United's 4-2 win at Watford yesterday morning (Singapore time), but squandered three good opportunities and has now scored just once in his last 11 appearances.

The Belgium striker is playing in plain black boots because he is between boot contracts and Mourinho joked that the goals would start flowing again once the £75-million (S$135m) man had found himself a new deal.

"He needs a big contract with boots because, at this moment, he doesn't have a contract with any brand," Mourinho said.

"That's why he's playing with the black boots. He needs a brand to go there and give him the right boots and pay him the right money, so he goes back to (scoring) goals.

"But jokes apart, he works amazingly well for the team. I would never, never blame a player like him for an easy chance that he missed. Never.

"With me, he knows he that doesn't have that pressure. Amazing player, amazing professional, great ambition, great colleague. I couldn't be happier with him."

One player who had laced up his shooting boots was Ashley Young, whose brace against his former club set United en route to a win that left them five points behind English Premier League leaders Manchester City, who entertained Southampton this morning.

He opened the scoring in the 19th minute with a crisp effort and then left Mourinho open-mouthed in the United dug-out with a magnificent 25-metre free-kick that curled into the top-left corner.

SURPRISED

"I was surprised that Paul (Pogba) gave him permission, but I was not surprised with his shot," said Mourinho, explaining his reaction.

"He's playing well. I know what he can do for us, all the positions he can be useful for us.

"This left-back position is adapted to him and probably at this stage of his career, where he has the maturity and the tactical experience, it's good. He's playing really well."

Martial's goal put United 3-0 up after 32 minutes, but Watford struck twice late on through substitute Troy Deeney and Abdoulaye Doucoure before a Jesse Lingard solo goal settled the visitors' nerves.

Mourinho, who claimed his side could have scored "seven or eight", said that Watford's second-half revival should stand as a warning to his players about never easing up.

"The second half should have been 5-0 or 6-0, it was easier to score than the first.

"It was an easy match to win comfortably... We missed 4-0 with some actions and Lukaku had an open goal, Pogba had a free header too...

"We should be smoking cigars, but then we're in trouble.

"We had mistakes in the box and that cost us two goals.

"Maybe it's a good lesson and it's good to have lessons without losing points, so the next time you are winning 2-0 or 3-0, the players will remember that football is football."

Watford coach Marco Silva took issue with his Portuguese compatriot Mourinho's suggestion that United could have won by a landslide.

"It seems harsh for everyone," he said. "It's Jose's opinion. I didn't see the same game." - WIRE SERVICES

Football