When you break the Club record transfer fee and spend £28m on a striker, you might expect his fortunes and yours to be closely aligned. So it is with Romelu Lukaku and Robert Martinez.

Both had “dream” first seasons at Everton, but in their second both have found themselves questioned by fans who would not hear a word against them previously, this author included. The striker has been criticised for a poor first touch, for being offside too often and, worst of all, for not working hard enough. Some unfortunate alleged comments in the Belgian press concerning his ambitions to play for a “bigger club” did not help the player’s PR.

His manager has been criticised for not playing to his talisman’s strengths, not getting the ball into him quickly enough and not playing the ball in front of him, rather than with his back to goal.

After 28 games League games this season Lukaku had scored 7 times, against 13 in the previous season, and Everton languished in 14th, a far cry from last season’s 5th place finish. However, the Europa League has for Everton and Lukaku been a very different story. In fact, the penalty scored in the come from behind first leg victory over Dynamo Kiev saw Lukaku become the club’s record scorer in Europe.

Leighton Baines has been the Club’s reliable penalty taker, but, with him not on the pitch v Kiev, Lukaku gladly accepted responsibility and, albeit slightly scuffed, was successful with the crucial kick. Kevin Mirallas was surely envious since, earlier in the season, he failed from the spot when taking the ball from Baines against West Bromwich Albion.

Lukaku's penalty against Kiev at the Gladwys Street End could yet prove a pivotal moment for player, manager and Club. Three days later in the League match versus Newcastle, Everton and Lukaku suffered no Eurpoean hangover, recording a much-needed and convincing 3-0 victory, equalling the biggest in the League this season.

Lukaku put in another top-drawer performance as he had against Kiev, showing skill, pace, intelligence and commitment. On 56 mins when a penalty was awarded for a foul on Lennon, Lukaku stepped up again, albeit this time with Baines on the pitch. The penalty was dispatched confidently, and he accepted the plaudits of the Gladwys Street.

When he was subbed off on 74 minutes, Goodison rose to their number 10; he applauded all sides of the ground, and you sensed a real togetherness that had been missing earlier in the season. Lukaku seemed to be loving the responsibility.

It is easy to forget that the player is still only 21 years old. He has all the physical attributes needed for a modern day striker. He is clearly intelligent and a keen student of the game; his recent interview to the Club’s own media was excellent, but those two penalties in front of the Gladwys Street have done him, his manager and the Club a power of good.

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Reader Comments (45)

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Mike Price
1 Posted 17/03/2015 at 20:03:36
I think his clear lack of fitness at the start of the season, his injury and the terrible tactics that have left him isolated and with his back to goal, affected his confidence and performance.

He's still scored more than last season though, he's rarely injured and doesn't hide. He's our focal point and just about only threat.

A good preseason, lose about a stone, give him some support up front and I'd take him over Chelsea's Costa all day long.

Dick Fearon
2 Posted 17/03/2015 at 19:49:08
It should not go unnoticed that Romelu's and the team's upswing in form come with a complete change around in the Martinez tactics. The team has suddenly transformed from a slow boring and pointless style into one that is fast moving and more direct.

This brings into question: Why in hell's name did it take Martinez such a long time to recognize the problem and its obvious solution?

A long time ago, all bar Martinez's rapidly dwindling fan club saw through his folly. The entire cohort of PL managers latched on to and took advantage of his folly. Even those sycophantic reporters of the Echo offered criticism.

Despite all that, and with our position worsening by the week, Roberto ploughed on with his laughable so-called philosophy. He seemed blind to reality, his feeble excuses were ridiculous. Worst of all our once proud club had become the butt of jokes. Friends who know of my passion for the Blues would lend a sympathetic ear while out of earshot they probably chortled at my dismay.

Over the recent few weeks, there has been much talk about turning corners but I am more concerned with the road block in Roberto's mind. Sooner or later, he will again try to prove his philosophy and I for one hope to god it will not be with Everton.

Peter Mills
3 Posted 17/03/2015 at 21:58:07
Despite scoring, Lukaku's penalties have not been convincing. Nor have Baines's since he started placing them. Why do they do it? Surely the best way to hit a penalty is to strike it very hard, whilst getting it within the target (the goal).
Tony Draper
4 Posted 17/03/2015 at 22:24:16
Romelu Lukaku now has 40 Premier League goals. At exactly the same age, Wayne Rooney had 49 and Rooney had started 42 more matches.

Romelu Lukaku so far scored 7 goals in Europe in a single season, Liverpool have scored 5 in SIX YEARS!

Gaute Lie
6 Posted 17/03/2015 at 20:52:50
So far his goal per game ratio is much better than Drogba at his age. Actually it's better than almost all top forwards in Europe, when comparing age.

His season has not been the best, and he has some weaknesses. He is a top quality forward anyway, and I just hope he truly wants to play for us, not glancing over to to bigger'n better.

Eric Myles
7 Posted 18/03/2015 at 00:44:23
Mike #1, in the OP Rodger states at this point in time (28 games) Lukaku's scored 7 compared to 13 at the same time last season but you say he's scored more than last season.

One of you has to be wrong or your counting different goals?

David Barks
8 Posted 18/03/2015 at 01:22:57
There is absolutely nothing wrong with Lukaku. He's young and has things to learn and skills to improve, obviously. But he just has needed to actually be in a team that was trying to score, passing with intent and not sideways among the defenders. The kid is talented and has a desire to be the best, that's massively important.
Daniel Lim
9 Posted 18/03/2015 at 01:29:09
Eric (#7),

I guess the OP was talking about domestic only, and Mike's number includes the Europa League. So they are both right.

David Ellis
10 Posted 18/03/2015 at 02:40:31
Eric #7 - the OP and post # 1 are talking about different goals.

According to Wikipedia, Rom has scored 8 Premier League goals (not 7 as per the OP) to date but also scored 7 in Europa and 2 in the FA Cup. Meaning 17 goals so far this season.

Jackie Barry
11 Posted 18/03/2015 at 04:16:49
Good player with the ability to become great, worth the investment. Yeah can be frustrating, but the season as a whole has been frustrating.
Eric Myles
12 Posted 18/03/2015 at 04:49:08
David #10, the OP is clearly talking about PL goals and comparing this season's tally to date with last season's which isn't as many.

Also the OP mentions goals after 28 games whereas Wiki total is after 29 games; take away the 1 scored in the 29th game and what do you get?

Terry Murphy
13 Posted 18/03/2015 at 05:55:42
I can't wait for next season...
Paul Gladwell
14 Posted 18/03/2015 at 06:50:52
I'm struggling to see how his penalty on Sunday was poor... isn't that part of a good penalty sending the keeper the wrong way?
Harold Matthews
15 Posted 18/03/2015 at 06:44:52
7 Premier League goals from open play. One more than Naismith who doesn't take free-kicks or penalties. Not surprised he's trying to up his tally but, that said, our slow possession football hasn't helped.
Adam Luszniak
16 Posted 18/03/2015 at 07:16:40
He's looked a different player recently. Even playing with his back to goal, which doesn't seem to be his natural game, he has improved. Control is better, positioning is better. If he keeps on improving like this, he will be a world beater.
Sam Hoare
17 Posted 18/03/2015 at 08:46:57
I have been seriously worried about Lukaku this season. Worried that actually he lacks the basics in touch and control to become a striker worth even 㾻M let alone 㿈M.

However in the last few weeks he has shown that these qualities can improve with confidence and form and he has looked the exciting superstar that we all hoped he might become.

It's not just about goals; it's about knitting the team together and holding up the ball to relieve pressure on the defence. He has done this brilliantly for the last month but needs to keep doing it before he can be truly hailed as a player worth the price tag.

Rodger Armstrong
18 Posted 18/03/2015 at 09:09:44
Eric #12, Thanks for proving my numbers 7 in 28 League games (13 at same stage last season) and now 8 in 29. Many more to come, let's hope!
Dave Pritchard
19 Posted 18/03/2015 at 10:34:01
Terry (#13),

I was still waiting for the second half of this season. Let's hope it has somewhat belatedly started last Thursday.

Des Farren
20 Posted 18/03/2015 at 18:10:19
Not too closely aligned, Rodger. Lukaku is rightly getting the plaudits he deserves.

Martinez, on the other hand, even though he signed the striker....
Success in Kiev could be the beginning of a genuine realignment in both their fortunes.

Mike Childs
21 Posted 18/03/2015 at 20:34:52
Harold and Sam: spot on – it's been very good the last few games but prove it to me. Let's face it, the World Cup which is supposed to be a time when you give 100% throughout. He had to be benched this year as well. Love him but jury still out.
Peter Mills
22 Posted 18/03/2015 at 20:45:27
Paul (#14), I believe on the whole that goalies decide to go one way or the other before the ball is kicked at a penalty. Had the Newcastle keeper called "Heads" rather than "Tails" then Lukaku's penalty would have been at a relatively comfortable height, placement and pace to save.

Penalties could prove crucial before the season is finished, and I would like any of ours to be very hard and just inside the post, no messing about. But then I'm sure you would too!

Patrick Murphy
23 Posted 18/03/2015 at 21:13:31
It's all getting far too technical for me. If the ball goes between the posts and crosses the line – Good Penalty. If it misses the target or is saved by the keeper – Bad Penalty.

Honestly, the amount of over analysing that some people partake in, is hard to understand, unless of course some posters want a career in punditry with the media.

Peter Mills
24 Posted 18/03/2015 at 21:25:18
Each to their own Patrick. It's just that having started watching Everton when Roy Vernon was virtually guaranteed to score a penalty, moved on to Joe Royle blasting them straight down the centre then inexplicably starting to place and miss them, latterly seeing Baines do the same at Old Trafford, I get really pissed off by players frigging about. I suspect Man City supporters may be feeling the same way at the moment.
Colin Glassar
25 Posted 18/03/2015 at 21:39:07
I've said it till I was blue in the face but I'll say it again, Lukaku has scored more goals at the age of 21 than either Messi, Ronaldo or Rooney at that age.

I defended the lad when many were giving him stick and I'll say it again, we have a rough diamond on our hands who will be worth a fortune in 2-3 years. Far more than the 㾿M we paid for him.

Paul Gladwell
26 Posted 18/03/2015 at 21:45:38
Peter, many strikers also wait for a keepers commitment before slotting the ball, hence how many slot them down the middle and how many times do we see a keeper stand still a catch one? Almost never, because players only do this once a keeper has committed.

At the end of the day, he's scored two from two when the previous two had been missed.

Peter Mills
27 Posted 18/03/2015 at 22:00:41
When I played I took a few, but the goalie always used to look 7ft tall and 7 yards wide!
Tom Bowers
28 Posted 18/03/2015 at 22:11:14
Everton have suffered somewhat because of the fitness of the 2 main strikers, Lukaku and Mirallas, but having another sicknote player like Kone has not helped the cause. Nessie works like a Trojan and will pop in a goal here and there but there has been little else from the other players when needed.

Last season, the team played with amazing confidence in RMÂ’s first season and we saw how good Lukaku can be. He is still learning some things but it appears Mirallas has his thinking elsewhere these days. Everton would do well to offload some of the fringe players in May and invest in another class striker as well as making Atsu permanent, at the right price of course.

The game tomorrow is winnable if RM doesnÂ’t get the team selection wrong and the tactics. Kiev will expect Everton to park the bus early but I hope that doesnÂ’t happen. Everton need to surprise them and grab an early goal as the away goal may be the difference in the end. Above all, Everton need bags of possession and that means players who know how to tackle and protect the ball.

Colin Glassar
29 Posted 18/03/2015 at 22:49:58
Wolfsburg, according to The Mirror, are preparing a 㿊+ million offer for Rom.
Patrick Murphy
30 Posted 18/03/2015 at 22:54:40
Good old Daily Mirror they love to put a spanner in the works just prior to an important game for Everton. No use worrying about it if he goes he goes and the club manage to make back the money and recycle it and we have a few new faces arrive in the summer and so the glorious cycle continues. What effect would selling Lukaku have on Roberto though, would he be willing to allow his marquee signing leave without a fight? There's probably no truth in the story anyway but it would be interesting.
Patrick Murphy
31 Posted 18/03/2015 at 23:00:47
Colin, I just noticed that you said we paid 㾿M for Lukaku, I thought it was 㿈M – do you know something we don't know?
Jim Knightley
33 Posted 18/03/2015 at 22:54:36
I think that pretty much all the criticism directed at Martinez of late has been justified, but I think some of the stuff hurled at Lukaku was beyond pathetic. He is a 21-year-old player, with some problems with his game, but problems exaggerated by a lack of confidence and tactics not suited to his style.

A confident Lukaku controls a ball very differently, and holds up a ball very differently. He has all the attributes to be one of the very best strikers in Europe, and we are lucky to have him. He has had a poor season domestically, reflecting our problems, but he has still contributed 17 goals in all competitions, and barring serious injury, he will get over 20.

With him, Stones, the left backs, Coleman, Jags (on his day anyway) and McCarthy, we've got top four quality. Barkley needs to find a role for himself (and the manager needs to find a role for Barkley), and Besic and Robles look promising.

We should concentrate on bringing in a talented creative wide player, a CB supplement, a replacement goalkeeper, and to replace Mirallas if he leaves. We should be looking to build a team around Lukaku, not on criticising a 21-year-old who will naturally drop off in form at points, especially in an impotent team.

Colin Glassar
34 Posted 18/03/2015 at 23:02:59
It's 㾿M plus about ٣M in add ons, Patrick. We paid Chelsea ٢m last season for his loan. I think Greg O'keefe has written about this already.
Clive Rogers
35 Posted 18/03/2015 at 23:13:23
I understood the 㿈M included ٢M for the season loan and ٢M add-on if we got CL in some period, probably the length of his contract.
Colin Glassar
36 Posted 18/03/2015 at 23:17:30
That's about right Clive. I think it we will pay (in installments) 㾿m and a few million more in add ons.
Patrick Murphy
37 Posted 18/03/2015 at 23:27:29
Thanks, Colin and Clive. I must have missed that somewhere along the line, so much for record breaking signing and the added pressure that the price tag must have put on Lukaku.
James Martin
38 Posted 18/03/2015 at 23:29:47
For me, more than any other player (perhaps alongside Jagielka) he stood up to the criticism and tried to change it around. We got back into the game against Kiev because he took up a ball on the halfway line and went by himself and created the goal for Naismith.

Even when we are playing badly he has still come up with some crucial moments such as the Crystal Palace goal away. He's on his way to scoring 20 in a season when we've created virtually nothing for him.

Yes his touch was poor and he looked lethargic but he did everything to turn it around. Now he has his pace power and touch back again and confidence flowing, but even when it was going badly he didn't hide like a lot of other players did.

I dread to think what would have happened had he been injured at any point and he is vital to any success we want to have in the Europa. Frightening to think how many he would score if we played to his strengths.

Gavin Johnson
39 Posted 18/03/2015 at 23:41:37
I knew there were clauses in the contract like the ٢M if we qualified for the Champions League. I wasn't aware that some of the money was for the loan fee. But if you take that off, I think 19M + a bit in add-ons is good value in the current transfer climate.

I think we need to buy another striker in the summer who can take the pressure of Rom in the goal stakes. Rom already looks like he's going to score more this season than last. It's just unfortunate a few more of the 16 haven't been in the league, but if we have someone else to compliment Rom, I can see him easily grabbing 20+ next season.

I think having another strong forward like Kone playing alongside him will help him realise this. Kone has shown that having another big forward in the team has meant that Rom's not up top having to contend with 3-4 defenders all the time. Although I'm just not sure Kone is the fella for the long term, because I'd be unsure how many goals he's got in him after his injury.

Jamie Crowley
40 Posted 19/03/2015 at 02:01:11
A friend of mine reminded me, while watching the Newcastle game about the injury to his foot this season. Perhaps a reason why his touch was so poor? Recently it's gotten much, much better.

This kid – enjoy what he can do because we won't have him forever. He's a great young player and I for one think he's fantastic. He's a beast trapped inside a 21-year-old body.

Matt Traynor
41 Posted 19/03/2015 at 02:59:58
Jamie, I think with Lukaku it is a combination of his injury, and maybe he's actually learning and improving. His touch was awful at times last season as well, but he still scored plenty (and only joined after the first few games and had to sit out the Chelsea games).

I think some fans have made their minds up on Lukaku (like some have with Martinez), and rather than risk being proved wrong on the internet (the shame!) they hope they are proven right, even if it's to the detriment of Everton.

Keeping the Newcastle link – I guess he's the modern equivalent to Mick Quinn for some.

Gavin Johnson
42 Posted 19/03/2015 at 02:59:25
Some of the red tops are saying that Wolfsburg will bid 33m for him in the summer. Not a bad profit if true, considering how divisive Rom's been amongst some factions of our support. If he plays like he has the for the remainder of the season, I don't think we should snap their hands off so readily.
Steve Harris
43 Posted 19/03/2015 at 13:04:48
I find it funny when people turn out the old cliche "Its easy to forget he's only 21" when every fucker tells you about it every 5 minutes!
Roman Sidey
44 Posted 20/03/2015 at 22:05:45
What I find hilarious is that some people throughout this season were calling for Lukaku to get dropped in favour of Kone. That is like trading in a fortnight in Cancun for a weekend in Glasgow.
Ant Dwyer
45 Posted 22/03/2015 at 00:28:28
Never mind the penalty debate, fact is we are lucky to have a forward like Lukaku. Yes, we paid a lot of money for him and yes he's not got the touch of Zidane and the hold-up play of Drogba but he bags goals and he's still only a boy. If we play to his strengths he'd get even more.

On to the penalty debate, Baines has seemed to have passed it over to Rom while Rom's form is up so why not, good on him.

I've always backed Rom and he's showing his worth again as I knew he would.. Class is permanent, fact.

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