Barkley Sparkles But Lukaku's Killer Instinct Deserts Him

An almost perfect away performance by the Blues was let down by Romelu Lukaku's lack of conviction in front of goal

Lyndon Lloyd 20/09/2015 71comments  |  Jump to last
Swansea City 0 - 0 Everton

In the wake of Everton's impressive 3-0 win at Southampton last month, Romelu Lukaku was in bullish mood declaring that, with a full pre-season behind him, he was both physically and mentally ready to put what was a disappointing 2014-15 campaign behind him.

Though he struggled for service in the ensuing Premier League games against Tottenham and Manchester City, he struck twice against Barnsley in the League Cup and played an important, if under-appreciated, role in last weekend's demolition of Chelsea.

That seemed to signal that the Belgian had rediscovered the hunger that typified his breakout season on loan at West Bromwich Albion and his first year with Everton during which, with his flying dreadlocks, seemingly fearless approach and a flurry of goals, he earned a nickname from some quarters of The Beast.

He certainly lived up to that monicker at the St Mary's five games ago but today, when the Blues needed the Lukaku that persuaded Roberto Martinez to shatter the club's transfer record, the "beast mode" Romelu was frustratingly absent.

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As the 2-2 draw with Leicester at Goodison last season demonstrated, of which this personal performance from Lukaku was very reminiscent, strikers have off-days; matches where things just don't quite click. Perhaps this was one of those occasions for the former Anderlecht player, a day when his killer instict temporarily deserted him... although it has to be said he generally seemed to lack conviction all day, particularly in areas where he is so often clinical.

Frustratingly, Everton just needed either him or Arouna Kone to get it right once. Martinez's back line had effectively stifled what can be a very enterprising Swansea side one which had put Manchester United to the sword here at the Liberty Stadium in its last home outing for much of the contest and were growing in confidence in the second half. It all seemed to be leading up to the one crucial breakthrough that likely would have handed the Blues all three points, but it never arrived.

It wasn't for the want of trying or for the guile and imagination in breaking down stubborn defences that was so often lacking last season. Ross Barkley, all dazzling feet and constant probing, laid gilt-edged opportunities at the feet of both strikers but Kone froze when contact with either foot would surely have resulted in a goal and Lukaku could only shoot straight at Lukas Fabianski; Gareth Barry's beautifully-weighted pass put the Belgian in down the channel but he hammered a right-foot shot high into the stands; and, later, Gerard Deulofeu's trickery ended with a teasing ball straight across the box that Steven Naismith was a hair too late in anticipating and it just eluded his out-stretched foot.

Brendan Galloway, meanwhile, almost became the unlikely hero by capping another outstanding performance with a brilliant goal early in the second half. The 19-year-old, who was positively Leighton Baines-esque in the amount of time he spent pushing forward down the left flank, escaped the close attentions of two Swansea defenders with a neat drag back but, agonisingly, pulled his shot across the face of goal and just wide of the far post.

Had that gone in, it would have been reward for the Blues' strong start to the second period after they'd drawn the home side's fire during a tightly-contested first period in which the effectiveness of all of Jefferson Montero, Andre Ayew, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Jonjoe Shelvey was gradually nullified by an excellent Everton rearguard. John Stones, a player for whom observers might soon run out of superlatives, was the stand-out performer with another exhibition of staggeringly composed and effective defending but Tim Howard was effective when called upon and the two young fullbacks, Galloway and Tyias Browning, belied their comparative lack of experience with hugely impressive individual performances.

Indeed, it was Browning, playing instead of the injured Seamus Coleman, who restricted Montero to just a handful of dangerous moments on Swansea's left and the combination of Galloway and Phil Jagielka shut down the threat from Ayew, while Barry and James McCarthy were relentless in closing down the space on which Shelvey and Sigurdsson thrive. And when they did manage to feed Bafetimbi Gomis up front, Howard was on hand to smother a well-struck half-volley from the Frenchman, see a shot by the same player past his right-hand post following an almost catastrophic back header by Barry and parry away his powerful effort in the second half. He also batted a stinging drive from Montero behind for a corner.

As the better side overall, Everton should have won, though and completed what would have been an almost perfect away performance. The fact that only two of their 17 shots were on target told the story, however, and it underscored the gamble that Martinez took in first ruling out buying another striker this past summer and then, having changed his mind, finished the window without having added a reliable, experienced marksman to the squad. The question of what happens if Lukaku gets injured or, like today, just isn't at the races in front of goal should not really have been left to chance.

It's true that most Blues would have taken a point before the game but in the final reckoning it was an opportunity to pick up three that was spurned. Nevertheless, Kevin Mirallas' late red card for a sloppy studs-up challenge on Modou Barrow aside, it was a hugely encouraging outing in a season that is yet young, not least because Barkley continued his upward trajectory following last season's fall from relative grace. Driving from his slightly withdrawn role, he was a box of tricks who wriggled out of seemingly impossible situations at times while at others he would appear to have snookered himself with Peter Beagrie-esque over-elaboration, only to glide past his man with ease.

In that sense, therefore, the boon to his confidence, that of Browning and Galloway and, by extension, the team as a whole might ultimately mean that his goalless affair and the solitary point Everton earned from it comes to represent a lot more in the long run.

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Darren Hind
1 Posted 20/09/2015 at 07:40:35
I’ve said a couple of times that Lukaku’s form could mean the difference between a decent season and a very good one. I think you have nailed the problem in one word, Lyndon: 'conviction'.

The big fella has the tools to trouble the best of defenders, but all too often, they get an easier game against him than they should do. He isn’t applying himself in every game and when the chances do come, he not surprisingly fluffs them. He has to get meaner. If he is going to realise his huge potential, he has to apply the C-word to his game.

Lots of pluses though; In Galloway, Browning and of course Stones. We have some very talented young defenders who don’t seem to have a great deal of regard for reputations.

Barkley will get even better, so will McCarthy.

Due to our inexperience we will drop points we should have easily secured this season... but it's already better than the last one.

Lyndon Lloyd
2 Posted 20/09/2015 at 07:48:06
One moment stood out for me, Darren, that just seems to sum his afternoon up as it relates to ’conviction’.

He’d chased a long ball down the channel, retrieved it at the byline and laid it back to Barkley. Instead of racing into the box where he could get on the end of something Ross might create, he almost literally just stood there, in an offside position, before eventually jogging back by which time the attack had broken down.

Bring back the Rom that was so desperate to prove something against West Ham in the cup last January or the one from the Europa League where he seemed determined to show he could play on that stage.

Peter Roberts
3 Posted 20/09/2015 at 08:01:58
I’ve had Lukaku's number from 3 months into his loan spell. Initially I was very impressed with him but remained puzzled as there seemed to be an air of "defenders are petrified of him and this is too easy".

At this stage, he had already turned into the hybrid of Dixie Dean and Wayne Rooney for many a carried away fan. The unconditional love created in the over excitable fan who thought "We could never sign him but, if we did, we would win things." That daft sense of "he can do no wrong" exists today and it's embarrassing.

His ability as a footballer is very poor. I don’t think I’ve seen a player with such a poor touch, he can’t jump, his runs lack intelligence for this level, and his right foot has absolutely no sense of direction – it’s his swinger.

Ahhh... but he scores goals! Forget the criticisms above, he does the most difficult thing to do....

Does he really??? For me, he’s a flat-track bully. If in the first 5-10 minutes he feels he is getting some change out of the defenders, you will probably see a performance and a couple of goals to bump up his stats. If not, expect the sulky, arms flailing "nothing right is happening" demeanour and 90 minutes of him going through the motions waiting for the ball to just magically find him on the penalty spot with the keeper just to beat.

It's a little sad the fact that Everton fans call him the best striker we’ve had in 25 years. He wouldn’t get a game for a Champions League side. Simply put, good defender’s mark him out the game. Look at his record against top sides; he does his goalscoring against lesser teams.

For me, he isn’t fit to be mentioned as a top striker, his laziness is an insult to those who contribute to his £75k a week wages.

He’s 22 now, and no that doesn’t mean he has time to improve his touch and get better. For strikers who have played since they were 18, this is where it gets tough. The fearlessness, instinct and sense of protection goes; fans demand performances, no polite applause for 60 minutes of mediocrity, you are in the territory that the likes of Fowler, Rooney, Owen, Shearer said it gets hard to score... defender’s know you, you question yourself more, you need to be on it all the time.

If by some miracle he actually has a good season and a half decent Euro 2016 and some club offers our money back, I would snap their hands off. I want a striker that has the mindset of a Naismith, Suarez, Cahill, Rooney, and to a degree Costa. Someone who is desperate to win for his team first and foremost, not just desperate to earn his next move.

For Lukaku, I sense the most ardent of his supporters have found it difficult to see the pantomime villain Kone show the desire that is missing from their hero’s game. After all, when Lukaku was bad, playing Kone instead was laughed at... Now it’s a plausible option. Sadly it’s going to take Lukaku the indignity of getting dropped to maybe try a little harder... Then he may actually find it's less pressure to score. Maybe.

Paul Smith
4 Posted 20/09/2015 at 08:28:08
Unlucky today.
Derek Thomas
5 Posted 20/09/2015 at 08:49:34
All too often there does seem to be more than a whiff of "Richman’s Anichebe" about him at times.
Darryl Ritchie
6 Posted 20/09/2015 at 08:59:09
Ah Lukaku... huge, hulking lad, not inexperienced any more, but still not playing like we would like him to.

He’s got a turn of speed, but it takes him a few strides to get there. He is not quick, like say, the nibbler is quick.

He can score a goal with his head, but if he could actually jump, with his size, he would score tons.

His first touch is embarrassing. He should be sat down and forced to watch hours of Fellaini on the end of long balls. Maybe something might sink in.

I don’t know if he’s lazy or just out of shape. When a move breaks down, and the ball heads back up towards our end, Rom is invariably extremely slow to get back into position. The times that we do win the ball back, he’s useless because he’s usually yards offside.

I like Rom and I really hope that there’s a top quality striker in him somewhere. My worry is that he won’t, or possibly can’t improve, his bad habits will become ingrained and become a permanent part of his game.

He is talented, but needs a lot more "attitude" in his game. He needs to show just a little disrespect to the other side; not Costa disrespect, more like Naismith disrespect.

I look at him and I am amazed that he’s not terrorizing every CB in the league. Maybe he will. Would be nice!

Tony Hill
7 Posted 20/09/2015 at 09:29:52
I think we should wait and see how his season unfolds. I suspect that he will do very well for us not least because it will suit him and his agent if he performs. It's just too soon to make big judgments about him.
Paul Jeronovich
9 Posted 20/09/2015 at 09:51:07
I still think Rom is the best striker we have had for years. Agreed, yesterday he wasn’t at it finishing wise but I like him.

As for Barkley, a new contract should be in the pipeline given his start to the season. He is starting to look the player we are hoping for since Rooney.

Michael Polley
10 Posted 20/09/2015 at 10:05:18
Inconsistency, and squandered chances. Agree Lukaku needs to sharpen up and get meaner in front of goal.

Good to see that defensively we are very solid and not leaking goals like last season.

Niall McIlhone
11 Posted 20/09/2015 at 10:22:42
Rom should be rested against Reading with Kone playing the centre-forward role and Nessie and Ross playing off him. I feel that Rom is a very intelligent lad, he must surely be aware there are areas of his game where he lets himself down, but I really do hope he develops his game with us.

The younger players at the club seem to have bonded very well, it would be a real pity if we end up selling any of them. There is very real, long-term, potential for improvement for Everton, what with a spine of young lads in Stones, Galloway, McCarthy, Barkley and Rom and the likes of Browning, Henen and possibly Ledson coming through?

I sincerely hope that in three years time, the comments on here will be about Lukaku having achieved his full potential with Everton; I think even the most sceptical of fans would accept he is more than capable of 15 goals, even on an average season?

Peter Roberts
12 Posted 20/09/2015 at 10:22:50
Lukaku needs to look at Barkley and Stones the way that Rooney should have looked at Messi and Ronaldo.

At the start, the three pretty much touted as talented and 'the future'; in the end, two stood out and the other kinda had a very average career compared to what should have been.

Stones and Barkley are going to world class levels. Rom is going to be remembered like a "could have been" unless his attitude changes.

Dennis Ng
13 Posted 20/09/2015 at 10:32:31
The result is discouraging but otherwise the performance is very good and long may it continue (with a few goals).

Niall, given that Kone came back from a long-term injury this season and Rom not having consistent form, I would have thought it should be Rom to play and Kone to rest.

Niall McIlhone
14 Posted 20/09/2015 at 10:45:13
I see your point, Dennis, and having just learned that Mirallas is also ineligible for the League Cup, I guess we don’t have too many options if Rom is rested ... either Kone or Naismith at CF?

The way we are playing at the moment, I would be quite confident if the manager made 2 or 3 changes from the Swansea game. It’s about keeping players fresh and hungry, and nobody should feel their place is guaranteed. We need to go all out to win the League Cup; it is definitely achievable with this squad.

Brian Harrison
15 Posted 20/09/2015 at 11:29:21
Peter Roberts (#3)

Spot-on about Lukaku, and I agree with Derek Thomas: he's turning into a rich man's Anichebe. I don't know where Lyndon thinks his contribution against Chelsea was important. I would also question what Duncan Ferguson is doing with Lukaku, surely as an ex-centre-forward he should be working on all aspects of his game. Yet I have seen no improvement in any aspects of his play. He has no tactical awareness of what runs he should make, and for the size of him he is easily muscled out of games. His first touch has got to be one of the worst I have seen in a top flight player.

I think it's time for RM to shake him up and leave him on the bench for a couple of games. I seem to get the impression that Lukaku thinks he is doing us a big favour turning out each week for us, and we should be thankful he does.

Nick Entwistle
16 Posted 20/09/2015 at 11:32:17
Only saw highlights but Barkley looked arrogant and fearless. Exactly what a player of his type should be. Where has that been for the last god knows when? He should be looking like Alexi Sanchez every week.
Tony Hill
17 Posted 20/09/2015 at 12:18:37
Yes, we should remember when we have a go at Lukaku that we were doing the same thing about Barkley last season, me very much included.
Christopher Timmins
18 Posted 20/09/2015 at 12:28:43
We are playing really well at the moment and you will have games like yesterday during the course of the season. Swansea are no mean team and more performances of that standard will reap plenty of points during the course of the season.

Let's keep the momentum going on Tuesday in what promises to be a tricky assignment!

We must have had the youngest back 4 in the Premier League yesterday.

Mark Andersson
19 Posted 20/09/2015 at 12:32:52
Peter Roberts, I hope both Rom and Martinez read your post. Many fans got carried away, calling Rom a beast of a player. He is not a beast, he is a sissy. After Saturday's game ,he should get a right bollocking for his utter shite performance.

So I put the blame on Martinez for being too nice. Drop him, it worked last season. In fact, if I was the manager I would say, "If you have a bad game, I’m going to drop you."

This is why we should have brought in another striker.

David Hallwood
20 Posted 20/09/2015 at 12:37:53
Good report, Lyndon. Oh dear... it's the "If he scores, he’s the new Messiah; if he doesn’t, he’s an expensive Victor." Try to be less TW and in the words of the song, accent the positive.

Yes, Rom was off his game, but that was aided and abetted by Ashley Williams who IMHO has been one of the Premier League’s top defenders for the last couple of seasons.

Then we come to Barkley, who Lyndon quite rightly singled out; with a run in the side it won’t be too long until he reintroduces those Gazza-like surging runs into the box, but he’s doing quite nicely controlling the game from behind Rom. Yes, that’s the same Ross who last year ’stunk the place out’ ’what ever they offer snatch their hand off’ ’I’ll drive him to the ground meself’ — think about that when you’re having a pop at Lukaku.

Finally the young guns at the back; for Browning to be up against Montero and come out honours even is an achievement in itself; and RM deserves a bit of praise for picking him; and Galloway, ’nuff said. In a way, I’m glad he didn’t score that goal because he would have been Chelsea bound or Citteh bound for the rest of the season.

All-in-all, I’m happy with the point and even happier how we played against a team that are no slouches. C’mon TWebbers... Smile!

Richard Reeves
21 Posted 20/09/2015 at 13:16:36
I said it before the window closed, and obviously I’m not alone in thinking it, but a proven and prolific goalscorer to challenge Lukaku was our main priority before we went for Funes Mori and Lennon. With a few players brought in at a good price to bulk up the squad, it was probably difficult or impossible to get one with what money was available but the loyalty Martinez shows in Lukaku when he isn’t doing it is holding the team back at times.

I’m sure if we had brought in Austin we would have four or five more goals by now and the fans would've taken to him which hopefully would've made Lukaku try that bit harder and upped his game. Sometimes Lukaku works his bollocks off and produces one of those games where everyone is talking about how good he can be. But, when he returns to not moving as much and generally not being as sharp or aware, I think it is complacency kicking in.

I’m trying not to have a go at him because every player has days when, for whatever reason, nothing comes off and it is the manager's and chairman’s responsibility to bring in that challenge from another player. To be fair to Martinez, I’m sure he would if he could but, if he didn’t, and it was anything to do with egos, then he is partially blind.

I hope the loyalty that the manager has to certain players doesn’t extend to the extension of certain players' contracts like Kone, Gibson and Pienaar. There’s no way I’d be renewing them and, with those released wages, he could bring in a decent striker.

Martinez is doing a great job with bringing through the youngsters and certainly seems to have a plan to have an exciting, talented young squad for years to come but, if he could get rid of some deadwood and invest in a top striker whilst keeping Lukaku happy, we could be going places sooner than later. Austin or Rhodes in January would be good.

Andy Crooks
22 Posted 20/09/2015 at 13:42:46
Peter (#12), I disagree about Rooney. He has not achieved what Messi and Ronaldo have but has, in my view, been the outstanding England player for many years. Sadly, he has been part of a very poor England side.

I believe if we had a young Rooney in our squad right now we would be playing Champions league next year, perhaps as Champions.

Ian Robert
23 Posted 20/09/2015 at 15:24:44
"Killer instinct"??.....really??
Colin Metcalfe
24 Posted 20/09/2015 at 15:38:12
I hope Leandro Rodriguez gets his debut on Tuesday. Let’s be honest... anything is better than Lukaku after yesterday’s display, he really did stink the place out!

I hold my hands up: I simply don’t rate Lukaku. He's lazy, lacks positional awareness, his right leg is for standing only, his link-up play is iffy... and please don’t get me going about his first touch!

We played really well yesterday and I had us down for a score-draw but ended up disappointed not to come away with a handsome win; if only our finishing/shooting was of the same standard as our defending! Three clean sheets on our travels; not bad at all.

A final word for RM: please please bench Lukaku until he learns to control the ball and takes his chances when they come!

Andy Crooks
25 Posted 20/09/2015 at 16:38:50
I have been a harsh critic of Martinez but missed chances cost us a handsome win yesterday and that happens all teams on certain days. We created plenty and that is encouraging.

As for Mirallas, I think he did what very late subs sometimes do: injure themselves or someone else.

Paul Tran
26 Posted 20/09/2015 at 17:03:18
Darren, you’re right. Conviction.

When he’s on song, he’s frightening. After the Southampton game, I got texts from other teams’ fans about his brilliance.

All too often, he disappears. Is it a mental issue, or is he another second-grade striker who looks great on his day, but doesn’t have his day often enough?

This season, he has Kone holding the ball and linking play, Barkley looking like the player we want him to be (humble pie from me!), and Cleverley, Coleman, etc putting in good crosses. He’s still falling short.

Big decision for Martinez here. How is he going to get the best out of Lukaku consistently? Or is he going to actually play Rodriguez within six months of buying him? Or is he going to reinforce in January?

We’ve got a good young back four, options in midfield and a manager who seems to have rediscovered his powers of motivation and playing a balanced team. We need strengthening up front. I hope it’s led by a consistent Lukaku, backed up by a pleasantly surprising Rodriguez. If not, we need a new striking hero in January.

Lyndon Lloyd
28 Posted 20/09/2015 at 18:03:54
Here’s the thing about Rom...

Roberto says that he can be as good as he wants to be because he has all the attributes required to be a top striker.

I tend to think he can't be as successful as he wants to be because there are limitations to his game that might not ever leave him – that poor first touch and his lack of aerial prowess, for example.

But he has shown that when he is in the mood he can be unplayable. He has demonstrated against some top sides (Arsenal, United, Wolfsburg, etc) that he can score the goals to become one of the best goalscorers on the Continent. He has enough speed, enough strength and enough ability that, when combined with the single-mindedness that he sometimes exhibits he can, like his old Anderlecht coach said, always score enough goals to make his faults irrelevant.

It’s all about attitude and application for me.

James Marshall
29 Posted 20/09/2015 at 18:23:32
"Sometimes Lukaku plays really well, other times he doesn’t play very well but by the end of the season he’ll score about 20 goals."

The above is the musing of a 13-year-old, and I think it says everything about Lukaku.

Colin Glassar
30 Posted 20/09/2015 at 18:41:58
I agree with Lyndon, Rom is an enigma. Brilliant on his day but......
Keith Glazzard
32 Posted 20/09/2015 at 19:18:17
I try not to do hindsight, but Swansea's preparation will have had a lot to do with marking Lukaku out of the game, which they did very well. OK, he should be better than that, and he certainly squandered good opportunities. But Roberto could have upset their preparations, at half time, or on the hour, with both Rom and Kone off and, say, Gerard and Ozzie on. Or a change of some sort to unsettle their excellent defence.
Of course, the boss will say we should have taken the points, and he would be right, but I can't help thinking that in his first season he would have made changes, and earlier.
Frank Crewe
33 Posted 20/09/2015 at 19:23:23
He needs competition for his place. As long as he thinks he will always be first choice regardless of his form then he is under no pressure to do better. Kone isn’t a threat and neither is Naismith.

Now, from what I hear, Rodriguez might get a game against Reading in the week. If he performs well, maybe scores a goal or three, then stick him on the bench against West Brom. Give Rom something to think about.

Steve Guy
34 Posted 20/09/2015 at 21:42:56
People need to get off Lukaku's case. He's 21 for pity's sake and still learning his craft. It shouldn't all be down to him to score. He leads the line well and doesn't hide.
Nicholas Ryan
35 Posted 20/09/2015 at 23:51:09
I think everyone should read the recent article by Lukaku's youth coach at Anderlect. One interesting thing he said, was that, because Rom was playing for Anderlecht at 16, and going to Chelsea at 18; he never had the chance to go through the grind of Reserve Team football, and the honing of technique that takes place there.

Sachin Tendulkar has said something similar, since retiring i.e. that he was into Test cricket so quickly, that he never had the chance to grind out his technique in 1st Class cricket; which led to a few blips early on.

So, if Rom goes on to have as much success as Sachin, I think that'll do just fine!

Dave Hall
36 Posted 21/09/2015 at 00:32:54
Complain all you want, but as soon as he goes down from a heavy challenge... all Evertonian hearts go in from whence the complaints came. He’s more frustrating/disappointing because of his incredible physical gifts than he is poor, as others have stated -- ridiculously. He’s most definitely got the quality to score goals in the PL and the track record to prove that his critics judge him too harshly. Give the guy a break, even his first touch has been better so far this season.
Phil Guyers
37 Posted 21/09/2015 at 09:27:59
Brilliant post, Peter Roberts (the first one at 3). My feelings exactly.

Who can name Lukaku's last Premier League goal at Goodison from open play?

Patrick Murphy
38 Posted 21/09/2015 at 10:20:47
Hull City, 3 December 2014 is the answer Phil, (#37). His last League goal at Goodison came from the penalty spot against Newcastle in March, his only home league goal of 2015.
Keith Harrison
39 Posted 21/09/2015 at 10:22:44
3rd of December 2014 against Hull. The only Premier league goal in 2015 was a penalty against Newcastle in March.
Keith Harrison
40 Posted 21/09/2015 at 10:27:37
Interesting reading on the following link. What I can't understand is what another poster alluded to, namely, what the hell is Dunc NOT teaching him. His game was based on intimidation, arial ability, a great touch for a big guy, and a never say die attitude. These are the exact attributes that Rom seems to be lacking, and a percentage increase in each 'discipline' would take him to another level in my opinion.

Steve Brown
41 Posted 21/09/2015 at 10:36:59
Because Rom has now played Premier League football for three seasons and regularly scored goals, I think sometimes we lose sight that he is a young man who is still developing his game and building maturity. It is clear for everyone to see that technically he needs to improve his game. It is also clear that on his day he is unstoppable. When it is not his day, he can be woeful.

Perhaps the difference between the two is less conviction more confidence. The former implies issues around his attitude that I don't necessarily agree with. It is clear though that the full weight of the team’s expectations rest on him in front of goal and he won’t always be up to it. I know there was a clamour for a CAM to be signed before the deadline (and we do need one), but the priority has to be a striker to share the burden with Rom.

I know he cost £28m but that’s not his fault. With a goal every two games in the toughest league in the world, that is going to prove money well spent in the medium term.

Jim Knightley
42 Posted 21/09/2015 at 10:45:04
I personally don’t think there is anything wrong with Lukaku’s aerial ability. He scored a lot of headers at West Brom, when he received very different service to what he got at Everton. Have a look his goals on YouTube or wherever for them.

His first touch is the big issue with his game. Sometimes he controls the ball well, and at other times he controls the ball like a leaden-footed kid. Clearly he needs to polish his technique, but I also think he has issues with confidence.

For all those who persistently attack him, remember what he has achieved for his age. In a season with West Brom where he often came off the bench, he managed 17 Premier League goals as a 19/20-year-old. That’s not just good, it’s breathtaking. Top strikers around the world were not achieving those numbers at such an age. He followed that up with 15 in the league for us, as a 20/21-year-old. That is true consistency, despite his age.

Last season was poor, but that had a lot to do with our inefficient supply, and the slow build-up of our midfield players. He still managed 20 in all competitions however. He has not started well or terribly so far this season. He has 4 goals from 7 games in all competitions, and with the team more properly set up to his strengths, I’d expect him to get near 20 in all competitions this year without the goals of Europa League football. We will see what happens, but a return of around that number would again demonstrate his significant potential and value to the team despite his age.

It might worth looking at the work of other strikers too. I saw Bony lauded on here many times, but he has clearly suffered from the pressure at Man City, and has not performed when starting.

Benteke is a wonderful player... but a wonderful player in spurts. He goes missing for matches, and his poor movement will make it difficult for Liverpool to imitate the fluid system of the SSS days, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Ings played more with Sturridge than we expected at the start of the season.

Kane, fresh off a brilliant season last year, has not scored in 6 league games, carrying on the poor run of form exhibited at the end of the last.

Lukaku on his day is a world beater. That performance at Southampton was as good as any striker has played this season in the Premier League. He was bullish, unplayable. He was, as many like to make the comparison, Drogba like. He is of course a different player to Drogba, who managed to score over 12 league goals in only 2 of 9 seasons at a dominant Chelski. Despite this his legacy is resounding, even though he shared some of Lukaku’s faults, and was not a consistent goal scorer in the way that many of those who came before him were.

When Lukaku scores a couple of goals at Goodison, he will look a different player. We could also play to his strengths a little more. He thrives off cut backs, and when we have wingers playing I expect that we will see more of those attempts and goals. He can also score headers, and consistently peeled off CBs at his time at West Brom, but we do not play many of those type of balls for him. Finally, we need to give him the ball quickly so that he can isolate defenders. That has certainly improved this season.

But Lukaku’s worth is in his goals. He can improve his touch etc, as players improve all of the time. Suarez notably got a lot better at that part of his game, as have many strikers in their 20s. He needs support, and patience, because he is only 22.

Paul Cherrington
43 Posted 21/09/2015 at 10:55:30
I tend to think that Rom is a bit moody in that, on any given matchday, he can be up for it or not interested, depending on what side of the bed he got out of.
Brent Stephens
44 Posted 21/09/2015 at 11:14:34
Watched the game again yesterday and there was one incident in the first half where the ball came in from the right and Williams headed away without any jump at all from Rom who was stood next to him, with time to measure his jump and nobody else crowding them, so no uncertainty as to who should go for it. Very disappointing.
Steavey Buckley
45 Posted 21/09/2015 at 11:31:20
Everton’s match against Swansea can be summed thusly: all of the team, except for Kone, Lukaku and Naismith, played very well; the other 3 played poorly. That’s why Everton came away with just 1 point.
Phil Guyers
46 Posted 21/09/2015 at 11:32:14
Very selective use of the stats on Drogba there, Jim! In his main spell at Chelsea he scored 100 Premier League goals in 229 appearances over 8 seasons which, by any standards, is pretty consistent goalscoring.

I wish people would stop mentioning Lukaku in the same sentence as Drogba. It's just so much wishful thinking!

John Daley
47 Posted 21/09/2015 at 11:35:13
"What the hell is Dunc NOT teaching him. His game was based on intimidation, aerial ability, a great touch for a big guy, and a never say die attitude. These are the exact attributes that Rom seems to be lacking."

Surely, most of the aforementioned attributes are natural and ingrained. How do you teach a grown man to jump higher, go into an a challenge with more conviction, or transform a naturally laid-back character into a foaming-at-the-mouth, "I’m gonna fuck you up if you so much as look at me" scrapper? 

Although sometimes, when he’s stumbling about with the ball at his feet, Lukaku may look about as assured as Private Pyle attacking an assault course, I’m pretty sure Finch Farm isn’t the footballing equivalent of Full Metal Jacket. You won’t find Ferguson going all Gunnery Sergeant Hartmen and giving it  "You will be a weapon. You will be a minister of death praying for war. But until that day you are pukes. You are the lowest form of life on Earth. You are not even human fucking beings. You are nothing but unorganized grabastic pieces of amphibian shit! Because I am hard, you will not like me." etc.

Even if he did, it isn’t going to make Lukaku a better player or instil him with a greater will to win. It’d probably just make him look up, groan and then go back to fannying about on his phone or something.

You would hope Lukaku listens to Ferguson when it comes to such lessons as how to hold the ball up when under pressure, how to lay it off to an oncoming runner without losing it, how to hit a first-time shot on the turn with your left peg etc. Things that can actually be taught and worked upon. Even then, though, if the lessons don’t take, who is to say whether it’s the fault of the teacher or the student?

Eddie Dunn
48 Posted 21/09/2015 at 11:51:54
Roberto wants him to succeed because the club spent so much money on him. It is embarrassing that he needed to take the pens and some free kicks purely in order to get his goal tally up.

He is young though, and can improve his obvious failings, but the most important thing is a mental one. Someone (or himself) needs to get the lad fired-up, and motivated. He needs a kick up the backside.

I’m all for encouragement but he was piss-poor on Saturday; he needs to up his work-rate and contribute. He is like a big heavyweight boxer with a great physique but no killer instinct.

Last season, he was dropped and came back a more willing player, so stick the revitalised Kone up top and bench Rom for Reading, and see what happens.

Amit Vithlani
49 Posted 21/09/2015 at 11:58:03
I thought Rom’s movement was first class to get into those positions and he brings something which none of the other forwards have - getting into good goalscoring positions. Undeniably his finishing this season has not been great but he looks the real deal to me.

Barkley has now taken the mantle of being the No 10, and Kone provides a good hard working foil to the other two. This triumvirate has the makings of delivering for us this season, which is something that seems to be a common thread in all of the reports from Ken Buckley etc (which I take more seriously than the criticisms of Lukaku from pundits such as Don Hutchison and Andy Townsend over the weekend).

Dan Hollingworth
50 Posted 21/09/2015 at 11:59:45
Romelu Lukaku is a great player, and the flack he gets sometimes slays me. When you draw a few games 0-0, strikers are the first part of the team that are looked at.

At times, granted, he can be a little frustrating, but he is leading the line every game more or less on his own. Players can’t be expected to do it every game.

One could look to Eden Hazard, a man who won Player of the Year in 2015, and is outstanding talent yet is a shadow of that player this season. Sometimes it takes a while to get going.

Whenever we play teams, they know he’s our main man and do everything in their power to nullify him. Yet he has games like he does against Southampton where he is unplayable. You all won't mind if he does not score against Reading and West Brom (providing we win both) if he scores in the derby the week after. I don’t know the stat exactly, but I think the most he has gone without scoring for us is 4 games.

He is only a young man, and he does still have a lot to work on as alluded too, but finishing is not one of his weak areas. Again, argument could be raised that not playing with wingers is affecting him and a narrower formation means he is having to adapt his game?

I think you’re fine Rom! Keep going. It will come!

Brent Stephens
51 Posted 21/09/2015 at 12:02:03
John #47 "How do you teach a grown man to jump higher".

Interestingly, John, I remember one footballer (South American, I think, but can’t recall his name) relating how he gradually increased the height he could jump by setting up a horizontal bar that he couldn’t quite jump up to and practicing jumps until he could; and then slightly raising the bar and repeating all that; and so on until he increased his jumping height significantly.

There’s also something about technique in jumping in terms of a slight bend of the knees before you jump, with the bend storing up energy which is released in the jump. So I read.

Keith Harrison
52 Posted 21/09/2015 at 12:15:47
A lot of prowess in the air comes from the timing of the run and leap. Just take Ossie and Tim Cahill for prime examples. And that could be taught.
Tom Bowers
53 Posted 21/09/2015 at 12:23:36
Lukaku is a proven goalscorer but has faults like many others. Very few are prolific, such as Messi, Pele, Shearer etc. Some who found the net a lot last season are having some difficulty this season but they will have their streaks eventually.

At Everton, everything is falling onto Rom’s shoulders and nobody expects Kone to score much so we are stuck with it unless Mirallas gets a good run but his good partnership bubble with Rom seems no more.

Having said that, RM has changed the system with Kone playing deeper and Barkley having a free role.

It’s hard to swallow scoring three against the Mourinho mob one week and then coming up empty the next with chances gone begging.

Everton seem to have a lot more options these days but the likes of Deulofeu and Lennon look as if they will only be used as relief from the bench for now.

Patrick Murphy
54 Posted 21/09/2015 at 12:24:43
Goalkeepers are paid to make saves, strikers are paid to score goals.

Is Rom in the wrong team? Is Martinez trying to improve his overall contribution to the game at the detriment of his goalscoring prowess? Is Rom just lacking in confidence? Is Rom really as good as his price-tag suggests he should be?

All of these questions will be answered in the next eight months, but at the moment there are far more questions than answers surrounding Rom and that is highly unusual for a striker who has been at the club for nigh on two years with two full seasons under his belt. I’m sure every Evertonian wants Rom to bang in the goals on a more regular basis but he’ll have to do more than grab a winning goal in the derby to justify his place in the team.

I’m sure Roberto is as mystified as the rest of us as to why the lad isn’t producing the goods at the moment. I don’t know the number of games on the bounce he has failed to score, but his league record is poor in the last nine months and it needs to improve and quickly. If he doesn’t return to goalscoring form soon, it will adversely affect the team and its results and that will put pressure on everybody including the manager.

Martinez has shown an unbelievable amount of trust in the young man and it’s about time the lad started to repay that faith. I think he has had a relatively easy ride from the majority of fans given his price-tag and his importance to the team. Many strikers have received far more flak over the years at Goodison for not doing what they are paid to do... think Jelavic, Saha and even Naismith at times.

John Daley
55 Posted 21/09/2015 at 12:41:30
"..he gradually increased the height he could jump by setting up a horizontal bar that he couldn't quite jump up to and practicing jumps until he could; and then slightly raising the bar and repeating all that; and so on until he increased his jumping height significantly"

Whatever happened to that guy?


Peter Roberts
56 Posted 21/09/2015 at 13:47:18
Thought I'd pop back in... some comments are as predictable and nonsensical as reading the front page of the Daily Express with their "house prices to treble this year" - "statins will make you live till 150" - "Lukaku is still only 21 (he's actually 22 now)"

In all honesty did anyone here improve their touch when they were 22-25 or whatever? I can honestly say that my technical ability peaked at 17 years of age. The only think that improved was composure and decision making.

One thing I will say is that my touch was not far from Rom's level - thats fine, I knew I had to work for a living.

Put it this way, if someone paid me £75k a week you would see a lot more effort than what you see from that lazy, arrogant man child. I certainly wouldn't have the audacity to talk about moves to other clubs whilst I was trotting round going through the motions.

I don't know who suffers from delusions more - Rom himself or the fans that somehow think he is going to be awesome. I cringe every time I see Drogba and Lukaku on the same article. Its about as relevant as comparing David Bentley to David Beckham - kinda look the same and that's where it really ends.

If Rom showed as much passion for the shirt as the Evertonians who consistently try to defend him - we may actually have a reasonably good player on our hands. Till then expect a few goals against Reading or another team when the win is in the bag and more half bothered perfromances where 1 goal will make all the difference.

Craig Walker
57 Posted 21/09/2015 at 13:51:00
In his head, he is the best striker in the Premier League. He even said as much after the Southampton game. He needs to start showing it though. For the size of him, he should be bullying centre-halves but it very rarely happens.

He needs to work on staying onside and being alive to through-balls. There's only Naismith who can run into space between defenders and finish first time.

Dave Brierley
58 Posted 21/09/2015 at 14:34:10
Peter (#56). I agree with pretty well everything you said.

Like so many, I find Lukaku a complete frustration. I’ve lost count of the amount of times as I’ve expounded to others how limited a player he is, he goes and scores a goal out of nothing. Sadly then for the next 5 or 6 games he reverts to type.

His lack of work rate reminds me of a centre forward in a team I used to coach some years ago. As his team mates were chasing and closing down the opposition, this guy sauntered about never directly getting involved or demonstrating anything resembling aggression. As players passed him he’d make a half-hearted pretense of chasing them until he got bored and stopped after a second or two. He was constantly berating his colleagues for failing to pass to him even when he consistently failed to return the compliment. Nonetheless, he could be guaranteed to net 15-20 times a season. With a bit more application, that could have been doubled, as could Lukaku’s return.

Young he might be but, as Peter mentioned, the technique of touch is something that is usually developed at an earlier age. I can’t really see this aspect of his game improving now.

Colin Williams
59 Posted 21/09/2015 at 15:57:34
Peter #56... Great comments! Spot on about the lad. I just wish he would stop kidding himself about his football ability!

The main thing he has going for himself to play the centre-forward role is physical size... But the sad thing about that is.... He doesn’t know how to use his physical attributes. He's a pussy cat.

Jim Knightley
60 Posted 21/09/2015 at 16:54:44
Phil - how is it selective? He DID only score above 12 goals in 2 of his 9 seasons at Chelsea. He had two prolific seasons, but his scoring record was not as fantastic as legacy. He is overrated because of the team he played in, and because he could bully the best defenders (on his day). He did however have a knack of scoring in bigger games, which is an invaluable quality. He finished with 104 goals from 254 league appearances at Chelski, to given him a record of 1 in 2.5 games essentially.

As for not improving his touch because he is 22... seriously?! It's nonsensical bullshit. Why on earth would a player not be able to improve his touch in his 20s? There have been plenty of examples in recent times. Look at Drogba - Look at Suarez. Look at Ramsey. And one of the oddest examples: Mertesacker. His touch and passing have improved incredibly since his move to Arsenal.

There is absolutely no reason why Lukaku cannot improve his touch. Maybe someone could provide a list of what can and can't be improved, because clearly I'm missing out on something.

Tony Abrahams
62 Posted 21/09/2015 at 17:12:35
Jim 42, good post until you said Lukaku thrives off cut backs. Not many centre forwards don’t, Jim. If he stopped getting on his heels and started getting on his toes to attack the cross, I’m sure it won’t be long for him to start scoring again.

I honestly think it’s all about anticipation. Start thinking were the cross might go and attack the ball, instead of holding back. This would change everything for me.

Tim Wardrop
63 Posted 21/09/2015 at 17:14:02
Lukaku was the difference between us getting 1 point and 3 points on Saturday... what a shame it was the wrong way around. More and more I am convinced that he is absolute dross.
Mark Andersson
64 Posted 21/09/2015 at 17:33:46
Big Rom, big hype, big let-down. If or when he mans up and is consistent as a so-called top striker, then brilliantly he will have helped us move up the table or gone on a good cup run.

And then he will want away, because he ain’t half as good as he and some of you think he is.

Phil Guyers
65 Posted 21/09/2015 at 19:37:26
Jim, it's selective because quoting someone's stats is ALWAYS selective, just like I chose to say he scored 100 goals in 229 appearances. The difference is that your stat is selected to try and talk Drogba down so that you can make a totally spurious comparison with Lukaku.

It seems that you think Drogba was 'overrated' but he only gets mentioned in these discussions because he is the player we all want Lukaku to turn out to be like. I think most people would say he was one of the best goalscorers of the Premier League era.

By the way, the reason a player is unlikely to improve his touch is that he doesn't have the innate ability to do so. I've been watching Lukaku for over 2 years now and he's getting no better in that regard - how long do you think we should give him?

Barry Lambert
66 Posted 21/09/2015 at 20:28:17
I know Martinez bigs him up in order to boost his confidence but he really needs to throttle back on all the boringly repetitious superlatives. I really like Rom but I genuinely believe he’s nowhere near as good as he thinks he is. He has massive potential and ability but he has to get a bit nastier.

When things aren’t going so well, lose the sulking, the drooping shoulders, and just get stuck in, like your team mates do, week-in & week-out.

I sympathize with him when the service to him is on too many occasions piss poor but I still believe that in Rom we have potentially one of the best strikers we have seen at Goodison for far too long.
Jay Harris
68 Posted 21/09/2015 at 23:38:33
Sorry to turn what was otherwise an excellent performance by Everton into a "Lukaku" thread but for me if you take away his goalscoring record he offers nothing.

Can't hold the ball up

Can't head a ball

Poor touch and ball control

Never on his toes

Rarely first to the ball.

I am pretty certain that if Naismith had the same amount of game time he would score as many and contribute far more... but, there again, he is not a "cult" figure.

Andy Crooks
70 Posted 22/09/2015 at 00:30:13
Jim Knightley, I think you make good points about Lukaku. Imagine him in three years time, still at Everton. The weaker aspects of his game will have improved, his power will be imbued with confidence and experience, and I expect we will have a top class striker.

John Daley, I expect it was before your time but there was a striker in the " Victor" many years ago who came from an island far away. He was immensely tall, played barefooted and scored for fun. The title was "Jumping Jimmi gets the goals", Frankly, his hold up play was shite but he broke the net on a regular basis.

How can you combat that? Well, a pencilled moustached foreigner did. The fucker got spring heeled boots. What I'm saying is if boots like that existed in the seventies then surely to God Lukaku's boot sponsor can manufacture a top notch pair now.

Jim Knightley
71 Posted 22/09/2015 at 01:17:13
Phil - you actually think footballers have an innate ability to control a ball?! I’ve heard it all now. Footballers improve all the time, and Lukaku has plenty of space to grow. Do you disagree with the players I mentioned improving? Do you disagree that Drogba’s touch and all round ability improved?

Re. Drogba. Whilst Drogba was unplayable on his day, he was not as good a goalscorer as the likes of Henry or Nistelrooy. I think you have a little bit of a flawed memory, because Drogba got plenty of criticism during his time at Chelski, especially in his first 2 seasons. You also criticise, but fail to engage with, the fact that Drogba only scored above 12 goals in 2 Premier League seasons. It’s a little pathetic tbh. Try answering a couple of questions for me: Drogba did only score more than 12 goals in 2 of his 9 seasons – didn’t he (one was admittedly when he returned as a bit part player)? If Lukaku only manages more than 12 league goals twice in 8/9 league seasons with us will you be pleased with that?

And Phil, try reading my post again. You claim that I’m trying to make a spurious comparison to Drogba. I’ll point you to this line, ’He was, as many like to make the comparison, Drogba like.’. As you can see, I’m responding to a narrative about Drogba and Lukaku. The same Drogba who was criticised at points for his touch, control and even goal scoring at Chelski. It’s kind of ironic then that you claim that touch can’t be improved, whilst promoting the legacy of a player who improved in exactly that area.

Interestingly Lukaku has 44 goals in 108 league games for Everton and West Brom so far. That’s a rate of one goal every 2.45 games. Do you know Drogba’s goal scoring rate for in the Premier League? One goal every 2.44 games. And yes, I’m being selective, but Lukaku has scored those goals.

And for everyone who criticises him, it might be worth considering just how good that record is for a 22-year-old. It also might be worth watching the highlights from that Southampton performance again.

Phil Guyers
72 Posted 22/09/2015 at 10:06:46
Jim, we'll just have to disagree about Rom for the time being. I obviously hope that you're right.
Gavin Johnson
73 Posted 22/09/2015 at 14:00:34
I see the ’Lukaku is shit’ campaign has started again. Firstly can we stop using the £28m price tag. He didn’t cost £28m and will never cost us £28m unless we get Champions League qualification.

The fee is around £22m, and that fee is very reasonable given his age and goalscoring record. It’s £10m less then Benteke, and I know which player I’d prefer to have. I’d love to see the frenzy on TW had we signed Benteke, and he was having one of his ’can’t hit a barn door spells’ that last for a good few months of a season.

Rom will score 15-25 goals every season. So what if he can’t do everything! If he could, would he playing for Everton?! No, he wouldn’t! The £22m fee is very fair for that kind of goal return.

I predict he’ll score a couple on Monday night and the boo boys will turn their attention back towards Steven Naismith.

Anthony Dwyer
74 Posted 22/09/2015 at 14:50:29
Rom is like any striker in world football he has purple patches and barren spells. The fact remains he was a great bit of business for Everton and he will hit goals this and every season of his career.

Forget the price tag as you can always find more in-form players for cheaper and worse or unsuited players for more expensive.

Be thankful we have the big man – that's my take on it as we were all desperate for him to sign and he will be missed when he eventually moves on.

Peter Roberts
75 Posted 23/09/2015 at 00:38:30
Quite frankly after watching tonight’s game the above comments (Jim and Anthony), some Everton fans need to read the history we have with strikers and see where Lukaku would sit when you consider the likes of Dean, Lawton, Young, Hickson, Sharp, Gray, Rooney... He is embarrassing.

The biggest problem is... he like you just can’t see it. For him he is world class, it’s got to the stage now where we need to get rid.

Wilmots (like Mourinho) seems to have run out of patience with him, only time will tell how far RM will persevere.

Frank Crewe
76 Posted 23/09/2015 at 18:11:31
I think there is a tendency to overrate strikers on the back of a purple patch. Benteke is hardly setting the world on fire at Liverpool. Kane has gone off the boil at Spurs. What is Bony doing at Man City? Nothing. Remember what a world beater Jelavic was going to be? Not.

The fact is these guys get bought for big fees before they are ready and elevated to superstars and they simply can’t live up to the hype and then we get on their backs because they haven’t lived up to our over-excited expectations.

Would we have probably have been £28M better off we had held on to Anichebe? He scores just as many, or should that be just as few goals, as Rom and we wouldn’t have to pay him so much.

Derek Turner
77 Posted 29/09/2015 at 08:25:01
Really Frank? Big Vic as good as Rom, scores as many goals? I for one find Rom very frustrating, but I am also proud we have him, that we showed the ambition (our board!) and backed the manager to get him even if Moronio screwed us over on the fee.

Anyway, do the maths, compare their records. I think it was a miracle to get £6M for Vic, and if you do a goals per game per transfer fee spent calculation you will find that Rom has been the more economical of the two by some distance. The reason to spend money on strikers is to get goals unless I am missing something about football.

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