Jose Mourinho has said that Romelu Lukaku is “tired” and “needs a little rest” after his recent defensive mistakes have cost Manchester United goals from set pieces.
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Lukaku has been involved in half clearances and marking which has gone wrong in goals conceded against Manchester City and Burnley, which saw United pick up just one point in those two games.
United still sit in second place in the PL table but are 15 points behind Manchester City and just six points above fifth-place Tottenham.
Lukaku has played in every single second of all 20 Premier League games for United so far this season, scoring 10 goals.
“The boy is tired. He is physically a monster but not a machine and he is feeling it,” Mourinho said. “For striker in the Premier League to play 20 matches, 90 minutes, I have to be very grateful for his personality and character. He was in the picture in some of the last goals we concede but all is a consequence of a player who really needs a little rest.”
With Zlatan Ibrahimovic back to full fitness, Mourinho has an option to rest Lukaku. But it’s unlikely he will.
United host Southampton on Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com) and they need to chase down City at every opportunity. Mourinho can’t afford to rest Lukaku as United aim to stay in pole position among the chasing pack to finish in the top four.
The fee is a world-record for a defender and plenty of managers are weighing in about whether or not the Dutch defender is worth the money.
“Other clubs can go out and spend more money and collect top players, yes. But if you bring one player in for £100m or whatever, and he gets injured, then it all goes through the chimney. Do I have to do it differently to that? Actually, I want to do it differently. I would even do it differently if I could spend that money,” Mourinho said. “The day that this is football, I’m not in a job any more… “I am not speaking specifically now about that case [Van Dijk] because in Liverpool they do what they want to do and I am nobody to comment on what they do.”
Mourinho then continued: “The reality is if they think the player is the right player for them, they pay this amount or they don’t have the player because that is the way the market is now,” Mourinho said. “Van Dijk is the most expensive defender in the history of football, Was he better than Maldini or Ferdinand? You cannot say that, it is just the way the market is – pay or don’t pay.”
Mourinho then reminded everyone of Klopp’s criticism of big money deals in the summer of 2016 when United signed Paul Pogba from Juventus for a then world-record fee.
“No critics at all about what Liverpool did. It is just the way it is. I think the one to speak about it in a specific way has to be Jurgen. If I was one of you, I would ask him about his comments about one year ago,” Mourinho said.
He can’t help himself.