Romelu Lukaku: learning from Henry, Drogba, and Anelka "the best thing that's happened to me"

Aditya Devavrat 22:37 14/09/2018
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Romelu Lukaku has been learning from Thierry Henry when on Belgium duty.

Romelu Lukaku has revealed the influence three former Premier League strikers have had on his career.

The Manchester United forward has scored 104 league goals since arriving in England in 2011, equalling Didier Drogba’s overall mark – but reaching that tally in 30 fewer games than his former Chelsea teammate.

“But he has four Premier League [titles] and I have none,” Lukaku responded in a BBC interview when told of his better scoring rate compared to the Ivorian

The Belgian says Drogba, Thierry Henry – a Belgium assistant coach since 2016 – and Nicolas Anelka, another former teammate, have had a major impact on his development as a striker.

“We talk every day,” Lukaku said of Drogba. “He is part of the process. He has been part of the process since I came to the Premier League.

“Even though we haven’t been in the same dressing room for years, he is still part of the process.”

The 25-year-old added that Chelsea legend Drogba was in near constant contact during the World Cup, where Lukaku finished with four goals, tied for second on the scoring charts.

“At the World Cup, he was at the hotel almost all the time.

“Can you imagine at the hotel for the World Cup, where we were staying in Russia? I had Thierry there and Didier here and I had to sit here and take everything in: ‘You did this wrong and you did that wrong, but this you did OK…’

Lukaku says his desire to learn and follow in the trio’s footsteps makes him much more receptive to criticism.

Lukaku enjoys a close relationship with Henry - as well as Drogba and Anelka.

Lukaku enjoys a close relationship with Henry – as well as Drogba and Anelka.

“They know I accept it because I really want to have the same career as they had.

“They can be as hard as they want, but I take it because I really want the same thing. Sometimes when I see Nico as well, those three are the guys when I grew up, they were like my everything.

“For me to have them sharing their experience with me, I take everything in.

“Even if they’re trying to knock me off, it’s no problem. Those guys, they have what I want and they tell me all the time ‘you are dangerous, because you are stronger than we were’ and I debate about pace with Thierry all the time!

“To be schooled by Thierry, Didier and Nico is the best thing that’s happened to me.”

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Mourinho is "cool with everybody": Romelu Lukaku lifts lid on relationship

Aditya Devavrat 22:00 14/09/2018
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Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku has lifted the lid on his relationship with manager Jose Mourinho, saying the Portuguese doesn’t “fake his emotions” and is “cool with everybody”.

The comments, made in a wide-ranging interview with the BBC, come after a summer in which the United boss’ relationships with his players have come under intense scrutiny, especially amid speculation of a fractured relationship with star player Paul Pogba.

But Lukaku paints a different picture, questioning the media portrayal of Mourinho.

“People know a side from him which is he’s a winner,” said Lukaku.

“But what I like about him is he’s not going to fake his emotions. When he’s mad, you know he is mad. When he’s happy, you see he is happy.

“I don’t understand why people don’t like the realness about him. When he’s mad at me I know he is mad at me, and I try to do what he wants so he is happy again.”

Lukaku, 25, went on to say that far from there being a tense relationship between Mourinho and the squad, the manager is a “real family guy” who “makes the players laugh”.

“My relationship with him is cool,” the striker said.

“He makes me laugh, he makes the players laugh, he’s a real family guy. He fights for his players, but he’s real. When you’re not happy, you don’t need to fake your emotions.

“People need to appreciate that, at least there are people who are real in this world like him. Because most of the managers in the league, when they are not happy they try to find a way to seem happy.

“You should respect that he wants to keep his own personality and not shy away from confrontation. Here, he really wants us to improve. He is a normal guy, we get along well. He is cool with everybody.”

Mourinho and Lukaku.

Mourinho and Lukaku.

The Belgian conceded that modern-day footballers may not fully appreciate Mourinho’s direct style, adding that his generation of players may have gotten “soft” compared to the previous era.

“Sometimes footballers, we get soft a little bit,” he said. “If I listen to players from back in the day and now, a manager cannot say what he wants to a player because you feel attacked.

“But I don’t feel attacked, because that’s who I am – I am a tough man, but that doesn’t come from football, that comes from my background.”

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Jose Mourinho reassures Man United fans over Marcus Rashford after taking aim at media

Simon Peach 14:55 14/09/2018
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Jose Mourinho has launched an extraordinary defence of the way he uses Marcus Rashford, reeling off a list of statistics as the Manchester United boss lashed out at “obsessed” pundits.

Rashford has started only one club game so far this term, before impressing for Gareth Southgate’s England by starting and scoring against both Spain and Switzerland.

Those performances led to questions around Rashford’s playing time at United, with former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher saying he needs to leave if he ever wants to develop into a world-class striker.

On the Marc: Rashford scored twice on England duty.

On the Marc: Rashford scored twice on England duty.

Such analysis has clearly got under Mourinho’s skin, with the boss giving a 276-second answer to one question about the forward’s performances for England.

“I think I can expect that Sunday I’m going to be highly criticised for not playing him because some of the boys are really obsessed with me and some of them, they have I think a problem with some compulsive lies,” the United boss said of Rashford, who starts a three-match suspension at Watford.

“So I can expect that Sunday some of them they will wake up in the morning and, as always, the first thing they think, that comes to their mind, is Jose Mourinho, so I can imagine on Sunday I am going to be criticised for not playing Marcus.

“But it is not my fault, he is suspended, so probably you should remind them that he is suspended, and he cannot play.

“Performances with England, of course I’m happy. He played well, he competed well, he scored and especially in a period where he comes with some sadness after his suspension and it was very good that he did that.

“If you don’t mind to lose a couple of minutes with me, I’m going to do something, not for you but for the United fans, because I think I hold myself to the United fans and for them I am going to spend two minutes with you.”

At this point Mourinho read from a hand-written note to reel off Rashford’s matches, overall minutes and average number of 90 minutes for the previous two campaigns.

“Marcus Rashford is not Dominic Solanke, he’s not Ruben Loftus-Cheek , he’s not Dominic Calvert-Lewin,” he concluded, taking aim at some of United’s rivals.

“He’s Marcus Rashford, Manchester United player, with an incredible number of appearances and an incredible number of minutes played at the highest level in the best possible competitions.

“So Manchester United supporters – for you and just for you – to know what we are doing with Marcus Rashford, Luke Shaw, Jesse Lingard, Scott McTominay, that’s what we are doing here.”

Mourinho was pointed with his remarks and clearly irritated by the perception he does not play Rashford enough.

“It’s not a perception,” he retorted. “You know some of the persons, everybody knows that they have double salaries.

“They work also for the clubs and when they work also for the clubs of course they are not independent and of course they conduct things in the direction they want to conduct things.

“That’s obvious and that’s human, and that’s natural. It’s not ethical but I accept, clearly.

“The ones that wake up in the morning and the first thing that comes into their mind is Jose Mourinho and Manchester United, I feel sorry for them because there are much more interesting things to wake up and to be happy in the morning (about) than to speak immediately about us and about football.

“But for the Manchester United supporters, I think it is important they have the right idea of how things are in reality.

“But the most important thing of all is that the kid is a good kid, the kid is a good player, he knows what Manchester United did for him.

“Starting in the academy, then Mr (Louis) Van Gaal’s support, then my support and the club’s support, and the new contract and the new shirt, and being selected for every single match since I am here.

“Marcus Rashford was selected for every single match – he was never, never one day out of selection because of my decision, only if injured or, like in this, because he is suspended.

“He was never, never out of a selection, so he knows and that’s the most important thing.

“But, again, media is very important, and I think it’s very important the Manchester United supporters they know the truth. That’s why I’m going so specific about his numbers.”

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