Romelu Lukaku will struggle to score goals from open play at Manchester United, predicts Glenn Hoddle.
The striker was signed by Jose Mourinho charged with scoring the goals that were so badly lacking last term.
The Red Devils managed to score just 54 times in the Premier League last season – the lowest among the top seven sides and 32 fewer than Tottenham.
Lukaku arrives having scored in double figures in the Premier League over the last five seasons – including 25 for Everton last term.
However former England manager Hoddle has concerns.
‘If there is one doubt I have, it would be over Lukaku at £75million. We know why Mourinho did not rate him at Chelsea. It is all about his first touch and close play. My feeling with Lukaku is that he needs space to play in and run into. He is at his best when he can terrorise defenders, running at them on to goal,’ he said in his Daily Mail column.
‘He will not get that kind of game at Old Trafford, when sides bank up, sit deep and deny space. That is when a team and a striker has to be more intricate in their build-up play. He will score from set pieces but I’ll be interested to see how much he scores in open play at Old Trafford. Life may be difficult for him there.’
Premier League 2017/18 opening day fixtures
Friday 11 August
Arsenal v Leicester – 19.45
Saturday 12 August
Watford v Liverpool – 12.30
Chelsea v Burnley – 15.00
Crystal Palace v Huddersfield – 15.00
Everton v Stoke City – 15.00
Southampton v Swansea City – 15.00
West Brom v Bournemouth – 15.00
Brighton v Manchester City – 17.30
Sunday 13 August
Newcastle v Tottenham – 13.30
Manchester United v West Ham – 16.00
With expectations at Manchester United going up after a big spending spree this summer, Lukaku must deliver according to Hoddle.
‘If you think about those 10 games United drew at home last season, the fact they scored 26 goals at home compared to Chelsea’s 55, that Everton had a better home record, it tells you everything about where United need to improve. Converting the chances they do create at home is vital. Lukaku is under pressure to deliver.’
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That begins on Tuesday when the Red Devils play in the UEFA Super Cup against Real Madrid. Their Premier League season begins at home to West Ham next Sunday.