Not many managers would celebrate a victory by putting their finger to their lips and hushing the TV cameras, and not many managers would feel compelled to criticise their own fans after coming out on top in one of the least eventful clashes we’ll see between two big six teams in the Premier League this season. Then again, not every manager is Jose Mourinho.
After his side fought their way to a 1-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday, Mourinho immediately leaped to the defence of his star striker and the second-most expensive signing of his United tenure, Romelu Lukaku. Believing the Belgium international doesn’t always receive the support he deserves, the Portuguese told MUTV…
“I would like the supporters to explain to me why they don’t support him so much because he gives everything and I think it is not fair when scoring the goal or not scoring the goal makes the whole difference.
“I don’t think it is fair at all. So I’m a bit disappointed – but not with him. With him [I am] very pleased.”
There are reasons for United fans to feel a little underwhelmed by Lukaku in light of his price-tag. He missed a key chance to score at Anfield a few weeks ago and failing to make an impact in big games was a common criticism of the front-man during his time at Everton.
While the 24-year-old didn’t hit the net against top-quality opposition once again on Saturday, though, it wasn’t another case of Lukaku simply not turning up.
In fact, considering recent criticisms and how pragmatic the 1-0 win was, Lukaku’s influence was impressive for a centre-forward in such a defensive-minded game. His flick-on assist for Anthony Martial’s winner was one of four aerial duels won during the ninety minutes, the joint-most of any player on either side, and he took three efforts at goal himself – one of which hit the woodwork.
On top of that, Lukaku provided a solid platform to build attacks from, twice creating scoring chances for team-mates and winning two fouls to get his side up the pitch.
Indeed, the importance of Lukaku’s display may not have been recognised with a goal, but his industriousness and involvement was crucial and deserved Mourinho’s post-match defence of his services.