Derby day presents the opportunity for players to become legends. That’s part of the reason why footballers must enjoy playing against their biggest rivals.
And Romelu Lukaku will have been aware that he had the chance to become a hero at Manchester United with a good performance at Old Trafford on Sunday.
But boy did he blow it.
The Belgian endured a nightmare as the Red Devils went down 2-1 to Manchester City, seemingly ending the title race in December.
Lukaku had a role in both Man City goals, failing to clear as David Silva and Nicolas Otamendi scored in each half, and saw a late effort brilliantly saved by Ederson.
The £75 million man has now scored just two goals in his past 12 matches and received heavy criticism from Man United supporters on social media.
Carragher on Lukaku's struggles
Among those to analyse Lukaku’s recent struggles was Jamie Carragher, who said the Belgium international needs to start performing in the big games on the Telegraph’s Total Football Podcast.
Carragher also raised concerns about Lukaku’s mental ability to cope with Zlatan Ibrahimovic being back.
“I think again having watched that, the worry now going forward with Lukaku… I think he will always get goals against the lesser sides. That was always a criticism at Everton,” Carragher said.
“But when he was at Everton playing against the bigger sides, Everton were quite negative. It wasn’t easy for them, they would never have a lot of possession, so he would always have that excuse.
“Now, at times Jose Mourinho’s teams, in these big games, we know, they sort of sat back and they hardly had much of the ball today, but there’s no doubt he’s got to bring a lot more to the game.
“And it’s not just about scoring goals. He should have scored in the second half but that can happen - it’s hit the ‘keeper in the face.
“But there’s got to be more in general play. He’s got to do a lot more in terms of hold up play, being a presence at the top end of the pitch, causing problems, running in behind and at times he looks like a passenger in these big games.”
Carragher continued: “[Mourinho] keeps talking him up in terms of how well he’s doing, the goals. He’s given him so much support, Lukaku, but I think he has to with the amount of money they spent on him, so he certainly doesn’t want to leave him out of the team.
“But with Zlatan coming back, I don’t know how that will affect Lukaku, if he has the mental strength to deal with Zlatan Ibrahimovic around the place, around the training ground and I think the supporters will be calling to see him a lot more considering Lukaku’s performance yet again.
“But he’s been here three or four months now, we haven’t seen a massive improvement in his performances in these big games.”
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