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Jamie Carragher shares his very accurate thoughts on Romelu Lukaku

Thursday 28th September 2017
Manchester new boy Romelu Lukaku has taken to life at the Theatre of Dreams as well anyone could have imagined. With 8 goals in 8 appearances, the Belgium international has made the step up so far this campaign, and current Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher has been running the rule on United's new number 9.
When Lukaku first arrived in England as a teenager and signed for Chelsea, he was seen as the long-term replacement for Chelsea legend Didier Drogba. It is only natural for a young player to arrive and be seen as a successor to a player of the same position, albeit not very easy or fair. Lukaku was likened to Drogba for their similar stature and physical approach to the game.

However, in all realism, the two are nothing alike, something Carragher has been vocal in pointing out. “He's nothing like Drogba for me.” Carragher told The Mirror, citing that Drogba was the bullying type. Knocking defenders out of the way an creating space for others, often the focal point of an attack without scoring himself. Instead, the former Liverpool defender has compared Lukaku to other Premier League frontmen, including a couple of Manchester United icons.

His attacking positioning, his ability to run the channels, and desire to get in behind the opposition defence have led Carragher to see more comparisons with Ruud Van Nistelrooy rather than that of Drogba. His goal return and selfishness in the box is so alike to the Dutch centre-forward that it's very easy to see why Carragher sees such a likeness in style. Whilst Drogba used his frame and core strength to back into an opposing defender in an attempt to stretch them and leave them out of position, Lukaku uses his to best any defender physically with creating his own goalscoring chance at the forefront of his mind. “His numbers are so good, like Van Nistelrooy or Andy Cole perhaps. He's not Drogba.”

To take Carragher's quotes further, the Andy Cole comparison is very interesting, even more so than the Van Nistelrooy one perhaps. This is mainly due to his scenario rather than playing style. To move from another Premier League side to Manchester United, with a reputation as a young early to mid-20-year-old striker with many years in front of them and an already impressive goal record. Cole and Lukaku's transfers to United are both so incredibly similar when you look at those factors, and if Lukaku can go on to score goals as freely wearing the number 9 shirt as his predecessor did then he's sure to meet expectations indeed. He could even surpass the exploits of Cole for the Red Devils if this form continues.

Carragher has always been an outspoken fan of Lukaku, dating back to his loan spell at West Brom from Chelsea during the 2012/13 season, and understandably so. He is an out and out goalscorer, the type of player who can have little to no involvement in a game for the duration but pounce on an opportunity and become the match winner in an instant. It's this sort of attribute that United have lacked over recent seasons, and will no doubt be a huge factor as to why Mourinho opted to pay big money for him in the summer as opposed to looking for the Drogba style bully as he did in the past.

So far so good for Lukaku at Manchester United and, to ring true to Carragher's thoughts, currently has a goal per game ratio in United red whilst rarely passing up the opportunity to stick the ball into the net. He has certainly shown for years now that the Drogba comparisons are far from accurate, but Van Nistelrooy and Cole comparisons are much more on point. Perhaps this is the campaign where fans realise this.
Ryan Stewart

23 years old, Sport Journalism graduate living in Salford. Work in web content in Media city and always looking to break in to sports writing. Manchester United season ticket holder.

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