Martinez backs Lukaku to start season strong

, 15 July, 49comments  |  Jump to most recent

Lukaku found Stoke debutant Jakob Haugaard a worthy adversary in the Singapore heat
(MOHD FYROL/AFP/Getty Images)
Roberto Martinez says that Romelu Lukaku's sharpness will come as he builds his fitness this pre-season.

Speaking after the Belgian had missed a glorious chance to win today's Asia Trophy opener against Stoke in regulation time, the manager was unfazed by his main striker's rusty finishing as the Blues prevailed in a penalty shootout to set up a date with Arsenal in Saturday's final in Singapore.

Lukaku slotted a coolly-taken spot-kick in the shootout, which Everton win 5-4 thanks to Tim Howard denying on-loan midfielder Marco van Ginkel, and Martinez was pleased with his work-rate, particularly in view of his slow start last season.

I thought Rom was very active, Martinez said. For a player of his frame and his physicality he needs to play 90 minutes.

If you remember last pre-season, on the back of a World Cup, it was very difficult for him to get fully fit for the start of the season.

But tonight, I thought he knew how to play the last 10 or 15 minutes and he is going to get real benefit from that amount of minutes.

His sharpness is going to come, he got in great positions and though his usual clinical finishing wasn't there he was always a focal point for attack. He worked extremely hard and, in terms pre-season, he is well ahead of where he was last season.


Reader Comments (49)

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Paul Nicholls
1 Posted 15/07/2015 at 23:38:29
“But tonight, I thought he knew how to play the last 10 or 15 minutes and he is going to get real benefit from that amount of minutes.

“His sharpness is going to come, he got in great positions and though his usual clinical finishing wasn't there he was always a focal point for attack.....”

Possibly the funniest thing I have ever read.

Craig Fletcher
2 Posted 16/07/2015 at 00:20:02
How is that funny Paul?

To me it's not particularly unusual for a striker to be a bit rusty in his first full game in pre-season?

Paul Nicholls
3 Posted 16/07/2015 at 00:38:59
Craig, seriously? Have you ever watched our �28M striker play? I'll just have to put his continual sloth, diver's boots and inability to trap a bag of cement down to rustiness then... :-)
Jim Jennings
4 Posted 16/07/2015 at 01:16:05
You have a strange sense of humour Paul
Ant Dwyer
5 Posted 16/07/2015 at 01:41:14
Some of our fans drive me crazy. We have one of the best young strikers in Europe despite not actually being that great a team at the moment. Yet some of our fans do their upmost to stick the boot into this young man at any opportunity they get.

Yes I agree, the whole Barcelona front three have a better touch, and yes the likes of Van Persie are more potent finishers, but come on, this lad's quality. We've been starved of quality strikers for as long as I care to mention. We've been stuck with Beattie, Johnson, Anichebe, Stracqualursi and so on for years.

We've got problems within the squad and players who do need to be moved on but let's face facts, Lukaku is one of our most saleable assets. He's still worth in excess of £25m, how many other Everton players can we say that about? Not many is the answer.

Let's ignore Lukaku's idiot of a agent and concentrate on watching our top class young forward put the ball into the net for as long as possibly can.

Furthermore , let's try supporting him and maybe he will bag another 20 or so goals.
Craig Fletcher
6 Posted 16/07/2015 at 02:34:16
The football season proper hasn't even started yet Paul; FFS. Granted, Lukaku wasn't great last season, but this "sloth", as you put it, still scored 20 goals.

And for perspective, if Sterling is worth £49M, £28M for a player who has scored 36 goals for us across two seasons now doesn't seem quite so bad.

Jamie Sweet
7 Posted 16/07/2015 at 02:46:43
What a strange thing to class as the funniest thing you have ever read.

It doesn't even make the top 1,000 funniest things I have ever read.

But then again, I am widely read.

I'm guessing you Paul are thinly read.

Ste Blundell
8 Posted 16/07/2015 at 03:36:06
Lukaku's got the touch of a back yard wall.

Isn't Paul allowed to have an opinion?

Why so aggressive Jamie?

Harold Matthews
9 Posted 16/07/2015 at 04:02:08
Jamie. Your post is also pretty amusing. Luckily it's not rush-hour on TW.
If you are the opposite to Paul and you say he is thinly read, I guess your "widely" read is not quite correct.
Jamie Sweet
11 Posted 16/07/2015 at 05:53:22
I stole that phrase from Eddie Izzard actually, Harold.

It wasn't meant to be aggressive at all, Ste. I was just completely perplexed about what there could possibly be in those two sentences to find amusing. Perhaps you could break it down for me?

Jim Bennings
12 Posted 16/07/2015 at 07:33:48
It does always feel like we are making excuses for Rom.

What was it last season? He is tired because of the World Cup (despite hardly playing in it). Then what was the reason for just two goals from open play after early December?

Now he’s lacking sharpness, but he looked rusty and lacking sharpness at the end of last season too.

I said on a post yesterday he divides opinion, his faults for me are his overall ability to hold the ball up, which include first touch and strength being vital. Also, he just doesn’t look comfortable being lone striker and he’s the type of guy who needs lots of support and chances made for him; he’s not going to create something from nothing with hard work like Andy Johnson or Marcus Bent.

I also think he needs to shed the same demeanor that held Victor Anichebe back. Built equally like man-mountains with an athlete’s physique, whilst Rom is a better goalscorer, they share the annoying trait of not using their power and physique against average defenders. Rom was too often bullied out of things last term and nobody can deny that from watching us on a weekly basis.

It will be interesting to see what his Premier League goal return will be this season without Europe to boost the rather modest tally of 10 in the league (for a £28 million striker anyway).

I’d suggest he needs to become more prolific, he needs 18-20 league goals this time.

Paul Nicholls
13 Posted 16/07/2015 at 07:54:09
Thank you Jim B. You have articulated that much better than this thinly read alumnus of the University of Manchester could ever have done.
Ian Jones
14 Posted 16/07/2015 at 08:41:26
One of my problems with Romelu is that he sometimes just looks disinterested and that he just can't be bothered. I guess that is his demeanour and we will get used to it. We can't compare him too much with other players

However. He scores goals. The more chances he has created for him, the more interested he will become. Hopefully he will also create some of his own.

Jim Bennings
16 Posted 16/07/2015 at 09:13:29
The only real way that Rom Lukaku can lay any critics to rest is by starting the season in top form, scoring goals and dominating teams like when he first joined us on loan two years ago.

I still ask myself what’s happened to this Lukaku that bulldozed his way through opponents in the first 10 games of his initial loan spell?

He just hasn’t had the same commitment levels since those early months and if he had, then I very much doubt he would be receiving criticism at all.

You got the feeling too often at times last season he was, as you put it, Ian, "disinterested". Why then did he look so different in the early months of his loan period?

Was it merely to put two fingers up to Jose Mourinho? Or was it to eventually win back a place at Chelsea and now it hasn’t happened, the same heart and commitment has dissolved into an "Oh I can’t really be bothered with this today" kind of attitude?

It's not just noticed by the supporters, it’s former club legend strikers that demand he must do more, he must show more, he must work more, move more when receiving the ball and laying it off, be harder to knock off the ball.

One of the reasons Blues fell in love with strikers as limited as Bent or Stracqualursi was not for their abilities but the heart and effort, it was priceless, Andy Johnson too.

We can accept a striker having a nightmare game, it happens to the best, but please Rom when you are having a bad spell just keep working hard, run that extra yard for the sake of your teammates, the fan’s will love you for it.

Dave Ganley
17 Posted 16/07/2015 at 11:05:39
IMO Lukaku is class given the right service. True, he looked poor and disinterested last season; however you could say the same about the whole squad given the tactics they were asked to employ.

Play to his strengths and you will see a £28 million player... even in a poor season, he scored goals. Use tactics like we saw last season and we will see more of the same. Again, over to you, Roberto...

Harold Matthews
18 Posted 16/07/2015 at 11:29:11
I refuse to let myself get too het up over Lukaku. It would be a total waste of energy. He's our number one striker. He'll never be dropped. Fingers crossed he has a successful season.
Andrew Ellams
19 Posted 16/07/2015 at 11:58:46
He's had 3 years playing regular football with PL clubs and notched 50 goals. Who could we afford with that pedigree and his best years still ahead of him?
Chris Gould
20 Posted 16/07/2015 at 11:56:54
Harold, that pretty much sums up how I feel about both Lukaku and Martinez.
Chris Gould
21 Posted 16/07/2015 at 12:08:45
He is an enigma though. His faults are so obvious and frustrating, yet his goalscoring stats are fantastic.

I'd rather have him in our team than playing for the opposition. I think a lot of the frustration stems from knowing how good he can be. He just needs to show it more.

Bill Farmer
22 Posted 16/07/2015 at 12:25:36
He reminds me a lot of Ephraim Dodds of long, long ago. 'Jock' couldn't trap a bag of cement but was deadly in front of goal. For a while.
Nicky Styles
23 Posted 16/07/2015 at 12:28:40
I've never been a big fan of his. Huge waste of money.

He only seemed to shine for us for a very short period and since then has followed in a very worrying trend of strikers who have played for us in the last 10 years by starting quite well and becoming anonymous over time.

What Roberto is basing these latest comments on, I do not know. One suspects he's merely trying to improve the player's morale. I would be surprised if he gets over 10 Premier League goals this season.

Phil Sammon
24 Posted 16/07/2015 at 12:35:36
People go on about him being lazy...but as a lone striker he has 4 defenders to close down whenever we don't have the ball. It's a thankless and virtually pointless task. He's not built to chase down lost causes like Marcus Bent.

I'd love to see us ditch a defensive midfielder and push someone further up with Rom.

Paul Stevo
25 Posted 16/07/2015 at 12:43:25
Rom reminds me of Heskey, all the attributes of a world beater but not aggressive enough – his best games appear to be when he gets kicked a bit; he needs a bit of Dunc influence to put it about like Costa did for Chelsea last season.

Good to see in the 2nd half of the Stoke game that we were trying to play the ball early into him; we just need that quality Number 10 supplying the better pass into him. He will score given the right ammunition but I would still like to see him bully defenders around him even if things aren't going his way.

Andrew Clare
26 Posted 16/07/2015 at 12:23:44
Dave #17,

Spot on. Lukaku is class given the right service. He is the kind of player that needs constant good service. He will miss a stack of chances but he will always score goals.

Our absolute Number One priority is a top creative midfielder to supply the chances for him. Without this player it will be another difficult season.

Steve Cotton
27 Posted 16/07/2015 at 13:00:11
He needs a Peter Beardlsey figure next to him to create, make space and share the goals. Call it a No 10 if you wish but someone who can get you something out of games that are drifting away.

Tim Cahill was an ideal player in this position too. Goals, presence, narky bastard, kept the ref on his toes, and knew when to leave an elbow in.

Harold Matthews
28 Posted 16/07/2015 at 13:58:47
Steve. Sounds like Naismith.
Winston Williamson
29 Posted 16/07/2015 at 14:02:16
I've said it before and I'll say it again: mental.
He's by-far the best striker we've had in years and he still gets slated.

Is it because he doesn't work hard and run around like a headless chicken? A bit like Marcus Bent? How many goals did he score?

I like a striker to score goals? Not bothered in what competition.

I agree though, he needs a footballing brain next to him.

Jim Knightley
30 Posted 16/07/2015 at 14:03:23
Lukaku should be running onto balls, and he should be one on one with defenders. Because we played too slow last season he was rarely given that opportunity, or allowed space. His touch needs to be improved, and some other parts of his game, but he only turned 22 in May. I think the constant stream of negative comments are bizzare, and an example of exactly the kind of ToffeeWeb negativity discussed yesterday.

Many of the world's best strikers got nowhere near Lukaku's stats at his age. He has started 81 league games over the past 3 seasons, and he has 42 goals and 15 assists. That's not just great for someone of his age, it's fantastic. Yet, fans on here will constantly have a go and criticise his technique, his attitude, and ignore consistently that we are playing a style of play that does not suit him.

I wonder how many goals Drogba would score in last season's team? How many times we've have a go at him because his touch was poorer than most strikers?

We need to play the ball quicker, and play to Lukaku's strengths. We need to get him in behind and get him one-on-one. I cannot imagine many more frustrating attacking midfielders to play in front of, than Mirallas (holds the ball too long, likes too shoot), Barkley (holds the ball far too long, loves to shoot), Deulofeu (holds the ball far too long, loves to dribble and shoot), McGeady (trick and cross, or trick and shoot, or trick and something in between). I wonder how Lukaku would do playing in an Arsenal teams with the likes of Ozil, Cazorla and Wilshere playing balls in behind and pulling balls back to him?

Lukaku's success at our club relies on us finding that creative midfielder, and in playing quicker football. Fans will constantly have a go at his technique on this website – but what about his strengths? He needs to work on his weaknesses but we need to play his strengths. If we do, and Lukaku stays fit, he will score 15-20 league goals this season. To reiterate – he is 22. And £23 million (minus the £5million) for someone of his age and his scoring record is not outrageous. It's not his fault he cost a lot of money, and it might be best to look at Lukaku's strengths, rather than his weaknesses.

And Nicky – fancy a bet on the 10 goals thing? I'm sure I can get set up a bet on betfair or wherever.

Chris Gould
31 Posted 16/07/2015 at 13:59:29
I would like to see (an injury-free) Pienaar given an extended run behind him. In fact, we are also far more effective going forward with Osman in the side. So much of his good work goes unnoticed.

Both of them have the ability to knit together quick, incisive passes. I would suggest that with Baines, Gibson, Osman and Pienaar in the team, Lukaku would get the ball a lot quicker and in more threatening positions.

Having them all fit together is unlikely, but I'd be more excited about that combination than the likes of Barkley and Deulofeu. Barkley and Deulofeu may be the future, but Lukaku needs feeding now!

Gibson, McCarthy/Cleverley, Mirallas, Osman, Pienaar, Lukaku

That ould be my midfield and attack. However, I realise the need to build for the future and the injury/fitness issues. But I think we would see some intelligent fast moving football, and the best of Lukaku.

Jim Knightley
32 Posted 16/07/2015 at 14:30:33
I'm with you Chris - if we started the season with our current contingent of attacking players, I'd like to see:

McCarthy and Cleverley
Deulofeu - Osman - Mirallas

Or McCarthy and Cleverley
Pienaar - Mirallas/Barkley - Deulofeu/Mirallas

I think Mirallas and Deulofeu are both so dangerous going forward, and offer significant threat. But I think that Cleverley and Osman/Pienaar would be necessary as a means to control the tempo a little, and feed in our attacking players behind.

Unfortunately Pienaar is 34 now, and I do not see him as good enough for what we want him to be. I'd say the same about Osman too, although his presence in the team at the tail-end of the season really helped because he restored some balance. Ideally we need to find a younger Pienaar for this team, and should concentrate all our efforts in finding a playmaker and the centre-back we need.

Tom Bowers
33 Posted 16/07/2015 at 14:38:56
Osman's work goes unnoticed? Sorry, but I don't buy that simply because his work consists of very little helping the team unless it's against weak opposition. Ossies's days are over as a starter as are one or two others. Yes, I prefer a fully fit Pienaar but alas he is not getting any younger either.

Lukaku just doesn't have the zip to run on to balls unless he finds space wide where he can cut inside and have a shot. Delboy or Mirallas are the ones with the zip and it is up to them along with Seamus to provide the speed to open up the space for Lukaku.

Chris Gould
34 Posted 16/07/2015 at 15:54:11
Tom, I think you just proved my point about a lot of his work going unnoticed. Deulofeu and Mirallas do not have the guile of Pienaar and Osman. They are also prone to making the wrong decision and being selfish. You will see Lukaku getting more and more frustrated playing alongside the two of them.

Pienaar and Osman will prove their worth once again this season. Providing they can stay fit.

Chris Gould
35 Posted 16/07/2015 at 16:00:28
Ask yourself this: If fit, who do you think will provide more assists in a season?

Mirallas and Deulofeu
Pienaar and Osman

There is only one winner there. Of course age and fitness is a factor, but when fit, Pienaar and Osman for me. Even in pre-season these two have played the most intricate and threatening passes. It was Pienaar who played Lukaku in for his off-side goal.

Steven Jones
36 Posted 16/07/2015 at 15:11:03
RM is spot on. 20 goals last season will turn into 25 this season.

Rom ran his heart out against Stoke and ran their defence ragged. 90 mins in the heat after 7/8 days into pre-season is mighty impressive. I loved his Maradona turn and a tad unlucky with his duel with their goalie.

Earlier balls look to be part of the plan, Del-boy stretching defences and a very fit Rom hitting the first ten games will provide a great basis for our season. Tom, Besic and Barks will provide the ammunition from midfield. I noticed the counter attack coming back in this week's game.

Latchford took till his 3rd season and Sharpy was not prolific until his third and fourth etc ..

Rom is at 22 in their class and hopefully we can do something special this year to make him stay or get £50M for him next year.

Tony Sullivan
37 Posted 16/07/2015 at 17:32:15
I agree with most of the positive comments on here.

From my perspective if we play to Lukaku's strengths over a season he will deliver the goals.

Hugh Jenkins
38 Posted 16/07/2015 at 16:38:11
It’s an interesting debate.

As has been mentioned, I believe his strength is running onto balls, from which position he is virtually unstoppable, as opposed to playing with his back to goal and holding up play. If anybody, he reminds me of Andy Cole, at his best. It is interesting too, to note the call for a quick footed No 10 to play alongside him. Dare I say it, Shankly did this with Toshack and Keegan and Toshack, when he managed Swansea, replicated this with Alan Waddle and David Giles. In both those cases, though, it worked well because the "big" man won the ball in the air and the quick-footed one scored off the knock downs.

I cannot see that style being particularly successful for us, however, as we are not geared towards playing high balls into our striker from the flanks, so the "Andy Cole" option, to me, seems far more favourable.

Oliver Molloy
39 Posted 16/07/2015 at 18:26:26
Lukaku has a lot to play for this season if he and his agent want their "Champions League" dream move to stay alive.

And so I think this could be a big season for him; it is a win-win situation for Everton.

Michael Kenrick
40 Posted 16/07/2015 at 21:01:13
"his sharpness is going to come, he got in great positions and though his usual clinical finishing wasn't there he was always a focal point for attack. He worked extremely hard and, in terms pre-season, he is well ahead of where he was last season."

The part in emphasis tells me maybe Roberto is getting the message about needing to provide more realistic assessments of his players. I think this is refreshing, both in terms of better fitness for Rom and more sense from Roberto.

Michael Kenrick
41 Posted 16/07/2015 at 21:25:23
Jim,. I don't think it helps if you are going to label critical assessment of players as inherently negative. Okay, yes, for some people, not focusing on the positives is fundamentally negative, but requiring that we talk (only?) about his strengths seems to miss the point when it is in fact his weaknesses that are letting him down, and losing us wins.

Can you honestly watch Lukaku and not cringe at the flaws? Balls were played to feet on Wednesday and just bounced off him in random 50p directions. He got the ball played in front of him so he could run with it... only to spoon the ball horribly. The supply to him in general on Wednesday was pretty good by all accounts. The fact that he could only score one disallowed goal from all those chances is just all too familiar, I'm afraid. I hope he will improve this season, I really do...

Yes, he's only 22... yes, It's not his fault he cost a lot of money... what was that about mindless repetition? There would two new rules I'd like to introduce. Fines for saying something that has already been said. And anyone making a prediction would have to put up money, subject to forfeit. At least this would help with our running costs!

Mike Allison
42 Posted 16/07/2015 at 21:31:23
I can't believe how many fans want to criticise him for what he can't do. He's the best striker we've had in decades, he's an almost guarantee of goals, and he's been made to play to his weaknesses rather than his strengths for most of last season and still scored 20. Just try, for a little bit, appreciating him for what he can do. I promise, you'll enjoy watching Everton more.
Jermaine Jennings
43 Posted 17/07/2015 at 06:36:40
Romelu just needs good quality service which is what we have failed to provide him with Martinez's type of football. He needs support in attack, through balls, and midfielders running constantly past him to open up defences.

Against Stoke the team were trying to get the ball forward early and quickly but with 20-yd or 30-yd passes which didn't really work. Only Pienaar opened up the Stoke defence with one quality pass, so Pienaar must start the season well and hopefully with no injuries and we could play him behind Rom and he will score loads.

Lukaku is quality and you should all stop criticising him.

Jim Bennings
44 Posted 17/07/2015 at 07:40:45
People need to stop being so easilyoffended by ccriticism of various players.

Its a simple realistic assessment and I'm sure Duncan Ferguson or whoever will work with Rom over the coming months will say many of the same thing's, you need criticism sometimes to actually learn more.

Paul Cherrington
45 Posted 17/07/2015 at 11:23:07
I do like Lukaku but do wonder if his finishing is actually good enough. Look at the Stoke game – he had one decent chance to win it and didn’t take it. That's the sort of thing that costs you points or loses you finals when they season starts proper.

For me, he is not clinical enough – when those chances come to him, he should be scoring, especially if he is the Champions League quality striker people think he is.

Andy Mack
46 Posted 17/07/2015 at 12:00:58
I'd love to see Rom fire in a hat-trick early doors to get him really ready up for it. He's got it in him somewhere. Let him and Deulofeu stay at training practicing nothing but latching on to those quickfire low crosses from the line and bingo!

(I'd love to see any EFC player fire in a hat-trick mind you. It's a mythical thing for us lot.)

Chris Gould
47 Posted 17/07/2015 at 14:30:29
I think part of his problem is that he likes to strut around rather casually, as if the game is so easy to him that he doesn't need to try hard.

I would like to see him drop the too cool for school act, and start to get at defenders from the very first minute. He could learn a lot from the likes of Costa and Suarez. Love them or hate them, they work bloody hard and get their due rewards. He needs to put himself about more and get a little nasty.

I could forgive the odd poor touch or missed chance if he worked his nuts off.

Derek Turner
48 Posted 17/07/2015 at 15:16:45
I think I just read a nearly (mostly) positive thread on TW! Where are me pills..
James Flynn
50 Posted 17/07/2015 at 21:39:25
Hopefully, Cleverley is pushed forward to set passes up for Lukaku. And most hopefully his Man Utd old boy Gibson is behind him. That would be nice. There’s a midfield moving the ball into the attack...
Jack Cross
51 Posted 18/07/2015 at 01:08:58
It’s pretty clear Lukaku is not the type of striker to run all day for the team. I think his build is his draw back. Like a muscle bound boxer, a great physique but too much huff and puff.... without the dynamics you expect.

So put him in the box and get decent crosses in to him. Give him those opportunities and I’m sure he will get plenty of goals. After all, that’s what he is there for, to score. As they say, goals win matches. Not running up and down the pitch.

Barry Jones
52 Posted 18/07/2015 at 17:00:30
I am not going to criticise Rom’s technical abilities, although he does have his faults and hopefully the coaching staff will work on those. But I have to criticise him for the basic qualities that any and every footballer should be capable of displaying. He does not work hard enough!! Quite simply, he is lazy.

For a big strong boy, he ducks out of tackles too often also. I just want to see more honest effort from him and better movement. As for his goal record, remember that RM took the penalties away from Bainsey last year, improving Rom’s stats considerably.

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