Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Sergeant Rom Could Become Reds Skipper

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Sergeant Rom Could Become Reds Skipper

Article excerpt

YOU get the feeling that the prematch huddle may return to Old Trafford next season. Certainly if Romelu Lukaku has anything to do with it.

The 25-year-old has not quite come of age at his second World Cup - that happens to teenagers - but his evolution into a vocal leader has been striking in Russia.

Before each of Belgium's four World Cup games, Lukaku has led the charge in geeing up his teammates - even when he did not play in that final group clash with England last week.

Lukaku will be in the mix to succeed Michael Carrick as United captain and has stepped up as Jose Mourinho's 'sergeant' since his shock move from Everton a year ago.

Following the loss of Carrick's on the field experience - not to mention the departures of veterans Wayne Rooney and Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the last 12 months - that role can't be understated in the Old Trafford dressing room.

Indeed, United lack an identity without Mourinho's only official untouchable.

Take the FA Cup final, for example. Three months after scoring a goal against a top-six rival for the first time as United player, Lukaku, at 100 per cent, would have relished again facing his old club on the big stage.

Certainly, it is hard to imagine Antonio Rudiger winning the man of the match award with a fully fit Lukaku causing him problems.

Depsite Lukaku only being on the pitch for 17 minutes, United seemed programmed to play with him. And was it any wonder? Despite a couple of niggles, the Belgian only missed five league games last season.

Ashley Young swung in cross, after cross, after cross but there was no one there to make the most of it at Wembley. It was hardly a surprise that Mourinho Lukaku will mix to succeed Carrick as captain Ciaran bemoaned his No.9's absence post-match.

"They know our team without Lukaku or Marouane Fellaini does not have a presence," he told reporters after the 1-0 defeat.

Remarkably, Lukaku's aerial ability was once one of his supposed weaknesses. Former Everton teammate Luke Garbutt once remarked that, despite his size, Lukaku's heading was not his strong point because of a mysterious childhood accident.

But he worked on it - as the United striker has with all his shortcomings. …

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