Manchester United were outclassed by Real Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup, as the Spanish side lifted the trophy, with goals from Casemiro and Isco. Although Jose Mourinho has made some eye-catching signings this summer, he still has a long way to go if he wants to make United a force in Europe once again. They looked a level beneath their opposition and this offered a reminder that they need to curb expectations ahead of the new season.
Romelu Lukaku moved to Old Trafford in order to test himself at the highest level and he showed on Tuesday night that he isn’t the finished article yet. The Belgian international managed to get on the score-sheet, but his overall performance was far from perfect. His price tag means that he is going to be the focus of the media’s attention every time he steps out on the field. At times, he looked nervy on the ball and he is going to need time to adjust to the new level that he finds himself at.
The best example of his uncertainness came in the first-half. Manchester United had a good opportunity to counter after Ander Herrera intercepted a pass in the middle of the pitch. The Spaniard was favourite to get to the ball ahead of the Real Madrid defender, but Lukaku went for the ball and wasted the opportunity as he was in an offside position. It was clear to everyone that he was and it was poor judgement on his part to get involved in the play. If he would have left it for his team-mate, it probably would have led to an equalising goal.
His form in front of goal was mixed, but his movement was impressive aside from the period of play discussed above. Although it is worrying when a striker looks to be lacking confidence in front of goal, it is even more worrying if they aren’t getting chances in the first place. Lukaku caused problems for the Real Madrid defence and that is encouraging for United.
During the match, he attempted three shots at goal. Quickly after the second Real Madrid goal, Lukaku had a golden chance to get his team back into the game, but he rushed his effort and missed the target. It wasn’t a totally open goal, but it was certainly a chance that the striker should have made the most of. United’s problem last season was poor finishing and they will be hoping that the Belgian doesn’t miss too many more chances like this one.
Despite the disappointment of missing a great chance, Lukaku bounced back and made sure he didn’t make the same mistake again, as he got his first goal for the club. It was good awareness as the striker took advantage of the mistake made by Keylor Navas. The former Everton striker showed his impressive mentality as he retained focus after his miss and bounced back with a goal.
There were ups and downs from his performance on Tuesday. Lukaku showed that he can compete at the highest level as he caused problems for Real Madrid all evening, but there are still rough edges to his game that need to be ironed out. This would have been a good experience for the striker and he needs to learn from it.