Romelu Lukaku is about to face a “massive jump” in dealing with pressure as he settles in at Manchester United.
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Lukaku, 24, signed for United last week in a massive $96.5 million deal and club captain Michael Carrick had a warning to the Belgian.
“The jump is massive,” Carrick said. “I found that myself coming from Tottenham. It’s a massive jump. You can’t really explain to people until they’ve gone through it. I’m sure he’ll find the same. But having Premier League experience is a massive bonus. He’ll know how things work week to week. It’s just about dealing with the pressure…
“He’ll be judged like anyone else: on what he does through the season and I’m sure he’s ready for that. The scrutiny will go up a level from what he’s used to. I’m sure he’s prepared for that and I’m sure he will do well.”
Can Lukaku handle the pressure?
It’s only July and he’s only had 45 minutes in a preseason friendly, plus a handful of training sessions, but it’s safe to say the jury is out. His first touch in a training session has already been scrutinized and his every move will now be analyzed by everyone.
Yes, he has scored consistently at West Bromwich Albion and Everton in the past four Premier League seasons, but when push came to shove Chelsea didn’t feel he was ready (at least at the age of 21) to lead their line and handle the pressure from a top club challenging for trophies.
That’s the same challenge which is facing Lukaku now and although the last few seasons as Everton’s main man have readied him for the next step in his career, Carrick’s words are a gentle reminder for both Lukaku and fans around the world that transitioning from a big fish in a small pond to a single, key cog in a multi-level machine is not easy.
The team at Everton was set up for Lukaku. It won’t be at United. Unless he scores 25 goals next season he will deemed a failure. And there’s a notion lurking in the background from last season which suggests Lukaku can’t quite cut it when facing the best defenders in the league.
Well, in 12 games against the top six last season Lukaku scored four times which is more than Harry Kane, Diego Costa, Sergio Aguero, and Alexis Sanchez. So, he does do it in the big games and it appears he can handle the pressure, most of the time.
Now he has to handle the pressure all of the time. That is what Carrick is talking about.
Aside from some lackluster performances against some of the best defenders in the PL (which aren’t confined to Lukaku alone) it will be intriguing to see how Lukaku handles the added pressure and expectation.
Everything in his career so far has led him to this point and as we have seen from his summer interactions with Paul Pogba and his interviews before this, he’s not short on confidence.
He will need lots of that, and focus, to not let the expectancy of one of the biggest clubs of the world become a burden.