Do great minds think alike?
One of the main concerns for Manchester United at the moment has been the slow-down in striker Romelu Lukaku’s goalscoring rate. While he has provided assists in recent weeks, it has been six games since his last goal.
Lukaku had scored in six of seven games prior to last month’s international break.
Both Bryan Robson and Paul Scholes have their own idea as to why the Belgian is struggling in front of goal – the absence of Paul Pogba.
The club’s record signing had been a revelation at the start of the season, with the acquisition of the more defensive-minded Nemanja Matic allowing him to play a more attacking role in the United midfield. An injury halted his contribution however, and Robson and Scholes believe that he is instrumental to the form of Lukaku.
“I think United might have had even more points on the board, if Pogba had been fit all the time,” Robson told Betsafe via The Mirror.
“I thought the balance of Matic and Pogba, Herrera or Fellaini, whichever way the manager wanted to play them: Pogba was scoring goals, but he was creating goals because he had this really good understanding with Lukaku. So I think we’ve missed that to a certain degree and that’s why we’re not scoring as many goals as when we started the season.”
Meanwhile, Scholes concurs, and went further in linking the fortunes of United’s two most expensive players.
“I think if Pogba comes back he’ll make a difference to the way they play,” the Englishman stated.
“He links the team together and I don’t think they have a good enough No. 10 at the moment and that doesn’t help Lukaku either. Pogba will make a difference and be more positive. Lukaku is having to do a lot for himself but Pogba will make the difference. They are missing a player to knit the team together.”
While Pogba’s absence has undoubtedly hindered United going forward, his non-presence doesn’t totally explain Lukaku’s barren spell.
Pogba’s injury occurred on September 12, against Basel in the Champions League. In the intervening four games he played from then to the October international break, Lukaku scored no less than five goals.
The contrast post-internationals could perhaps be explained by the gradually waning influence of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, though many of the assists provided in the four games mentioned came via Anthony Martial.