Rather than lambast Romelu Lukaku after another match of missed opportunities at Watford, Jose Mourinho opted to joke about why Manchester United’s £75million striker is not scoring.
‘He needs a big contract for his boots,’ Mourinho said on Tuesday night. ‘He doesn't have a contract with any brand. That’s why he’s playing with black boots. I think he needs a brand to give him the right boots and to pay him the right money so he goes back to goals.’
Mourinho said it with a smile then, jokes aside, used the word ‘amazing’ three times to describe Lukaku. The simple truth, though, is United’s goalscorer is not scoring goals.
Romelu Lukaku cut a dejected figure as he failed to score for Manchester United vs Watford
Jose Mourinho joked about Lukaku's form, but he will be thinking seriously about his options
The Belgium international started his Old Trafford career by scoring 11 times in his first 10 games in all competitions. In his last 11 outings, however, he has contributed a single goal.
Of course it doesn’t help that not a single United player features in the top 10 for chances created this season, though Lukaku has to take his share of the blame.
He was fortunate to avoid retrospective action by the Football Association for his off-the-ball kicks on Brighton’s Gaetan Bong, which was caught by the cameras but not the referee. It was a sign of frustration from a striker who is having no luck in front of goal.
Lukaku’s single strike in his last 11 appearances came in a 4-1 win over Newcastle in November and next up are two monstrous league clashes – Arsenal away then Manchester City at home.
As United aim to chase down their neighbours and Premier League leaders City, they need their striker to find his shooting boots, branded or not.
At Vicarage Road, the Belgian was well involved in United’s opener – a goal against the run of play which got them going. He threw his weight around and was a handful.
Lukaku's confidence looks to have drained out of him following a superb start to the season