Lukaku is dead, long live the team…

I have a friend who once dated a girl who was way out of his league. Nobody could understand, including my mate, why she was with him. So it was no surprise that a few months later she moved on to supposed better things with someone else.

I think that’s how the world is looking at the Lukaku and Everton situation now. How did one of the world’s best strikers end up playing for a mid-table team? Tweets being sent out about how it’s about time he got his big move. Everton were never good enough. They’ll be done without him.

In truth, a lot of Evertonians, being the eternal pessimists we are, are probably privately thinking the same thing. What will we do without Big Rom? He was responsible for 40% of our goals. We would have been relegated under Martinez without him. But are we really done without Lukaku? Is he irreplacable? Or is there more to it?

So let’s just get down right to it. Is Lukaku irreplaceable? Yes, and no. Will Everton be able to bring in another forward who will guarantee get you twenty plus goals a season? Not likely. Sure, we’re spending money, but I don’t think we have the 100+ million that clubs need these days for a Harry Kane or Alexis Sanchez. Nor do we have Champions League football (yet) as a big draw. So in terms of a like for like replacement, there is no one like Lukaku within our current reach.

But I think we’ve swapped one player who scores 20 goals (and contributes little else) with four players who will easily get 5 goals a season each and will definitely contribute more to all round play. With the arrival of Sandro, Klaasen, Rooney, and potentially Giroud and Sigurdsson still to come, then we have more than covered Lukaku’s goal quota. Honestly, if you offered other Premier League clubs outside the top 4 the choice between Lukaku, or the other five or five previously mentioned players, then I’m betting most would take the five players over the one.

I’m not arguing that Lukaku isn’t a good player. But what’s he’s especially good at is poaching. Just check out any number of his Everton goal compilations that are appearing on Twitter at the minute. Almost every goal he scores is from within 8 yards. Now, there’s a definite skill to that, or we’d all be doing it, wouldn’t we? But we all saw those games away from home where passing to Lukaku with his back to goal was like kicking the ball up against a brick wall. I saw one Manchester United fan tweet that he hopes Lukaku has had a first touch transplant if he’s to play at the highest level. I suspect that we’ll see more of those complaints as the season goes on. The point is, if we can bring in a player in the mould of a Pelle or Giroud who can hold up the ball, then we’ll be a better team as a whole. Who can better supply players like Sandro, Rooney, Bolasie, even Barkley. We might even turn up away from home time to time.

Let’s move away from Lukaku and talk about players we’ve brought in, because there’s a lot of potential there. I especially want to mention Sandro. What a steal he was. I can’t believe that there was not more competition for him once his Atletico Madrid transfer fell through. The fact that he was courted by them says it all. The team that always sells their star striker, only to bring in the next goal machine. They sell Aguero and Torres, then along comes Costa, then after him comes Griezmann. These guys know what players will score goals, even Jackson Martinez and the now much maligned Radamel Falcao did the business for them. So is it too much to suggest that Sandro will be among that esteemed company in a couple years time? Maybe. But other Spanish experts believe his future is very bright. Yes he’s fiery, a bit petulant, and needs to feel loved. But if the fans get behind him then we may have a seriously great player on our hands.

And then of course, I have to mention Rooney. The Blue who was always a Blue except became a Red but is now a Blue again. I’ve seen some people suggest that he’s a ‘BK signing’. That Koeman doesn’t really want him. But I firmly believe that is nonsense. Koeman was complimenting him for months before this Lukaku deal picked up speed. And there’s still a player in Rooney. People say he’s done, but he’s only 31! These days a player can stay at the top until 35 or so. So I’m hopeful for him. I just hope we get the angry Rooney who gets sent off four times a season but scores 20 goals rather than the tame ‘mature’ Rooney who has been sleeping through his final United years.

I started and I’ll finish with my friend who had that girl out of his league. Years later, he’s a happy man with a lovely wife and a great future. He has not looked back. And I hope, and truly think, Everton will be the same.

As for the girl in the story, well let’s not talk about how her big transfer ended up. Will Lukaku score goals for Manchester United? I’m not sure. I keep hearing people say that we’ll get the ‘real’ United and the ‘real’ Mourinho next season. But, who is the real Jose? His Chelsea team grinded out results. His Inter Milan team grinded out 1-0 wins. His Real Madrid team was not lauded for its style of play, though they certainly were winners. So I don’t know how United fans can argue that Jose will suddenly adopt this frantic attacking style of play?

And that’s where I worry for Rom. At Everton he played in an attacking team against opposition that left space in behind. But we were all at those Goodison games where teams sat back under Roberto and we really struggled to break them down and Lukaku got no space. He was ineffective and, as I said earlier, contributes precious little to build up play. He’ll be playing in those conditions every week for United. He definitely does not have the style and skill that Zlatan had to hold up the ball.

Of course in saying all this I could end up with egg on my face. He could very easily score 20+ goals for United this coming season. I’m just suggesting that there is evidence to the contrary. I’ll hold my hands up if I’m wrong. We will see this time next year if he was worth the fee.

So for these reasons I’m hopeful about Everton. And I feel life won’t be all sunshine and roses for Lukaku on his greener grass. But don’t get me wrong. It won’t be an easy transition. I’m assuming that Sandro will adjust practically immediately to the team. That Rooney does still have gas in the tank. That we will actually sign another target man like Giroud. But I think there’s definite hope for the future. Can we be optimistic now? Maybe? Just this once?

Samuel Scott

Follow Sam on Twitter: @SamuelScott5

One Comment

  1. Steve Whiting says:

    I think Lukaku’s comments when he signed for United say everything about his Everton career: “I’ll need to try hard, harder than I’ve done before”

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