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Analysing Romelu Lukaku’s performance for Manchester United in the UEFA Super Cup

Jake Jackman

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Lukaku

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.

Jake is a journalist based in the South East. He is a Newcastle United fan and has a keen interest in Dutch football. Jake can be found on Twitter here - @jakejackmann.

Manchester United

Three Manchester United youngsters to watch out for this season

There is a breadth of young talent available to Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford.

Martyn Cooke

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Manchester United
Photo: Getty Images

Manchester United have already made significant moves in the transfer market as Jose Mourinho continues to refine and remould his squad in preparation for the new campaign.

Brazilian midfielder Fred arrived in a £52 million deal from Shakhtar Donetsk last month whilst Portuguese full-back Diogo Dalot was signed from Porto for £19 million earlier in the summer. The high-profile duo have also been joined be veteran Stoke City goalkeeper Lee Grant, who has been brought in to act as experienced covered for David de Gea and Sergio Romero.

Mourinho is expected to make further additions before the start of the season but he should also consider casting a keen eye at some of the youngsters that have been making waves within the United academy over the previous two or three years.

Here are three youngsters that Manchester United supporters should keep an eye on this season.

(Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

James Garner

Manchester United are currently blessed with an abundance of talented central midfielder players including Paul Pogba, the world’s most expensive footballer, new £52 million arrival Fred and experienced enforcer Nemanja Matic.

However, it is widely considered that James Garner will soon be listed among those prestigious names after the academy graduate made rapid progress over the previous twelve months. The 17-year-old only signed his first professional contract in May and he is set to tour with the first team during the pre-season preparations, putting him firmly on Jose Mourinho’s radar.

Garner is versatile central midfield player that is equally as adept playing in a holding position or in a more advanced role whilst he has also been utilised as a central defender during his spell in academy football. He is renowned for being a natural leader and is the current England under-17’s captain.

The midfielder was a central figure in the United youth team that won the Premier League North last season and he is being tipped to make his competitive first team debut in the coming year.

(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Axel Tuanzebe

Jose Mourinho has struggled to find a reliable central defensive partnership during his spell at Manchester United due to injuries and the sporadic form of some of his senior players.

However, in Axel Tuanzebe he might have a potential solution.

The 20-year-old is renowned for his power, strength and pace and has developed a well-earned reputation as being the most talented young central defender on Manchester United’s books. His ability to read the game is reminiscent of Rio Ferdinand whilst his physical presence is similar to that of Eric Bailey.

Tuanzebe has already made a handful of first team appearances since making his debut in January 2017 as a substitute in a four-goal victory against Wigan Athletic and he spent the second half of last season on loan with Aston Villa. He played only a scattering of games at Villa Park as they club reached the Championship play-offs but will return to Old Trafford better for the experience.

Mourinho has publicly praised the central defender in the past and appears to rate him highly – he may way emerge as a regular feature of the United team if he is able to capitalise on any opportunities he is provided.

(Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

Angel Gomes

Manchester United’s modern history is filled with legendary players that were loved by supporters because of their pace, technical ability and creativity on the ball – in Angel Gomes the club appear to have someone that fits the mould perfectly.

The 17-year-old joined United’s academy at the age of six and has been hugely impressive throughout the formative years of his career.

He became the youngest player in over a decade to make his first team debut when he was used as a substitute in May 2017 at just 16 years and 263 days old in a late-season fixture against Crystal Palace, also becoming the first player born in the 2000’s to play in the Premier League.

Gomes can play anywhere across the three attacking midfield positions with his dribbling and innovative skill highlighting him from his peers. He is a somewhat diminutive figure but has the ability to dictate the pace and flow of a game with his intelligence, vision and impressive range of passing.

Since making his first team debut the 17-year-old has not featured for Mourinho’s side in a competitive fixture but he is being widely tipped to re-emerge and feature in the forthcoming year.

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Everton

Everton should consider Luke Shaw as Kieran Tierney alternative

Everton are moving closer to signing Leighton Baines’ long-term successor.

Liam Thomas

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Luke Shaw
Photo: Getty images

Everton are on the hunt for a long-term replacement for current left back Leighton Baines and have been hotly linked with a move for Celtic’s 21-year-old star Kieran Tierney.

According to The Daily Record, Everton are edging closer to securing Tierney’s services for a £25 million fee, but there has been no deal officially done yet, and Celtic are keen to keep hold of their top prospect.

There is, however, another left back option out there whose talent is undeniable and is an option Marco Silva and the Everton hierarchy should be exploring; Manchester United outcast Luke Shaw.

Shaw’s torrid time at Manchester United has been well documented, and 22-year-old defender hasn’t managed to hold down a regular position in Jose Mourinho’s starting XI since the Portuguese manager took over at Old Trafford in 2016.

It would be silly of Everton not to explore the opportunity of capturing Shaw’s signature.

The England international is only a year older than Tierney and already has a heap of Premier League experience; meaning he could come into the Toffees setup and hit the ground running, unlike Tierney who may need time to settle.

At 22 years of age, Shaw still has his best years ahead of him and this is something Everton are reportedly looking for in their search to replace their long-term left back Leighton Baines.

So why not take a punt on Shaw? If the pacey full-back could reproduce any of the form he showed playing for Southampton under Mauricio Pochettino he’d be an incredible purchase for the Toffees.

Considering his current relationship with Mourinho, Shaw would be the obvious choice of left-back to explore and would likely be available if Everton came calling for him, while prizing Tierney away from Celtic may be more hassle than it’s worth.

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Liverpool

As some Liverpool fans call for his signing, Shinji Kagawa could be an excellent addition

The Japanese international worked under Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp at Borussia Dortmund.

Mathew Nash

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Japan are out of the World Cup but they gained many a fan with their brave effort against Belgium last night. The Samurai Blue led 2-0 before goals from Jan Vertonghen, Marouane Fellaini and Nacer Chadli helped the Red Devils to victory. But there were several incredible performances, including from Borussia Dortmund playmaker Shinji Kagawa.

He was exceptional in the middle of the park, linking the attack to defence masterfully in a performance which reminded people just why Manchester United once splashed out on his signature.

(Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

In fact, his performances at the World Cup overall have been fantastic. So much so, that some of the fans from United’s bitter rivals Liverpool are suggesting they make a move for the player:

The reasons why are clear. Jurgen Klopp is a big fan of Kagawa and first took him to European football with Borussia Dortmund. He got the best out of the player and was a truly massive fan of his. Back in 2013, with Kagawa out of the picture at United, Klopp told The Guardian it broke his heart to see and that it had put ‘tears in his eyes’. He also dubbed Kagawa ‘one of the best players in the world.’

Now, 29-year-old Kagawa is looking back to his best. He was one of Dortmund’s best players last season, before an ankle injury cut things short and under the guidance of his former boss Klopp he could be a star – which would be great to rub in Manchester United’s face.

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