Man Utd need Romelu Lukaku to deliver against Arsenal and Man City, says Gary Neville
Last Updated: 30/11/17 11:25am
In the latest Super 6 Class of '92 diary, Gary Neville discusses Romelu Lukaku's form, recent Premier League appointments and Salford City's FA Trophy woes.
Looking to Lukaku
I don't think Jose Mourinho will be worried about Romelu Lukaku's lack of goals, but I think ultimately he's got two big games coming up.
He was brought in to score goals in the games which United were drawing last season. However, it is in the big matches where they now need him most. If there is a way to get at Arsenal and Manchester City then it is by really going at their defences.
For a striker, it is all about your goals and unfortunately, people will always measure him by that, but away from the goals his contribution has to be big, to mess their centre-halves about.
He's had his struggles but ultimately that was always going to happen at some point after his blistering start, but this is a critical stage of the season where he has to deliver.
Handling the pressure
Lukaku gets more chances created for him but he's also under more pressure, so misses get scrutinised, and rightly so, but these are the games where he can silence his critics.
Social media is never a measurement of real Manchester United fans and the fans in the ground. At Old Trafford, against Manchester City, they will be fully behind him.
I don't see Zlatan Ibrahimovic as a threat to Lukaku at all but as a supplement. The only way Ibrahimovic can become number one is if the aura of Zlatan gets to Lukaku.
Zlatan is confident but Lukaku is number one, the fans and the manager believe in him and if he does have any demons then he needs to clear them from his mind.
Time to gain ground
I was a little bit worried as a Manchester United fan this week with Watford and Arsenal away, and felt we couldn't go into the derby any further behind Manchester City, so it was a big win on Tuesday night.
Watford is a tough place to go and now United need to focus on the Arsenal game where they will face a team who have built up some momentum at the Emirates with 12 straight wins.
One thing for certain is that United have to win the derby. In terms of the title race, they have to damage them and really disrupt their rhythm.
I was at Huddersfield on Super Sunday and there was a title-winning mentality about them. Sometimes you don't play at your best and the other team are frustrating, but you still get the three points, those are the sort of signs you look for in champions. Pep Guardiola eluded to it, over the years Sir Alex Ferguson's sides had that mentality.
How to halt City
Old Trafford is a ground where runs can come to end, as Arsenal's Invincibles' run did. The season is really coming to a head and it is a big two or three weeks. United have to be closer to City than they are now when we head into Christmas.
United will be more measured against City, you can't be open against them, but you also have to put pressure on them. Pep's City have been wonderful, playing fantastic football, and that has to be stopped somehow.
To go away to Old Trafford is the biggest test they'll have had. It's an intriguing and exciting game, one in the back of everybody's mind already.
United have done well when you look at their points tally. Any other season 32 points after 14 games would put them in a fantastic position, so it is more about City being fantastic than United not doing well.
- Brighton 1-3 Liverpool
- Everton 2-0 Huddersfield
- Leicester 1-1 Burnley
- Stoke 2-1 Swansea
- Watford 1-2 Tottenham
- West Brom 0-1 Crystal Palace
Desperate times, desperate measures
Everton and West Brom have clearly gone for experience in Sam Allardyce and Alan Pardew and what we're seeing is the desperation of clubs to stay up, because these managers have track records of keeping teams up.
It is the same as clubs not giving young players chances, and we're in a desperate cycle of clubs making short-term decisions rather than pursuing long-term visions.
What I see is survival football, which is very different to entertaining football. It is necessity over style and it's got to a point where young players and young managers are getting less and less chances.
It means that the quality of British football suffers, with the purpose to stay up and reality of it is that there needs to be fundamental change with government intervention.
The Premier League will not give people what they want from the game. Yes, there's better investment in terms of facilities but young players, coaches and fans are suffering.
Will Pardew improve West Brom?
Will new West Brom manager Alan Pardew improve the Premier League club?
Quotas for young players, affordability for fans, grassroots facilities for training and coaching, those type of areas need support if we're going to end this spiral.
Everton have been up and down, backward and forward, looking at Marco Silva and Sean Dyche. They've not been sure what they wanted and the fear of relegation has made them become desperate.
Bouncing back after Brackley
I wasn't able to go to the game on Saturday but was obviously disappointed [for Salford City] to lose 4-0 to Brackley Town in the FA Cup Trophy. With an experienced spine, there's no excuse for conceding four goals.
I can only assume it was a mentality issue with the managers making some changes. That's not to say we're not interested in the cups, so I was disappointed as I expect all of our squad to be able to perform.
We've got two tough games away from home in the north east at Blyth Spartans and Darlington before three local derbies against Chorley and FC United, so we've got a five-game period which will play a big part in deciding our season.
Hopefully, that defeat can be left on the scrap heap because they are all tough games which will have a big say in our aspirations of promotion.
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