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Lukaku under Ferguson's tutelage

by | 04/11/2014  Comments (69)  jump
Belgian striker putting in extra sessions with Big Dunc

In addition to learning from the experience and advice of veteran star, Samuel Eto'o, Romelu Lukaku is also benefitting from one-on-one coaching with Duncan Ferguson.

The Belgian international reveals to the Liverpool Echo that he has extra sessions with Everton assistant manager Graeme Jones and the Goodison favourite at least three times a week as he seeks to become a better all-round striker.

I can learn a lot from Duncan about holding up the ball," Lukaku says. "Even sometimes in training he'll stop and show me something. The way he holds up the ball is so impressive.

Also the way he finishes from crosses as well with his head. It's all impressive.

The 21 year-old admits that he was too young to remember Ferguson in his pomp for the Blues but he was made acutely aware of the Scot's stature at the club when he first arrived.

"I looked up some videos when I first came here," he continues. "It's then I saw the important goals he scored and how much he meant to the fans.

Lukaku also explains how much he enjoyed playing alongside both Eto'o and Steven Naismith against Burnley, two forwards with different qualities but from whom he can learn and improve.

"I enjoyed playing with them at Burnley and I hope there can be more occasions, he says. There are different types of strikers. Naisy is a poacher. Sometimes in training a ball that falls into the area and he's always there.

Every time somebody shoots at the keeper he's always following it up. He can get the ball out of his feet quickly and shoot and he usually scores."

Lukaku was left out of the starting XI against Swansea City at the weekend because of a recurrence of his toe injury and it remains to be seen if he will be involved from the start against Lille in the Europa League on Thursday.

Quotes sourced from Liverpool Echo

Reader Comments (69)

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Tom Dodds
1 Posted 04/11/2014 at 23:36:37
The KidÂ’s alright.
Gerry Quinn
2 Posted 04/11/2014 at 23:58:35
CanÂ’t wait for Rom to throttle Skrtel by the throat, head-butt Bambi or fling Henderson over his shoulder then!,
Mike Childs
3 Posted 05/11/2014 at 00:03:01
Never seen Big Dunc either but I like the picture you paint Gerry.
Jimmy-Ã…ge Sørheim
4 Posted 05/11/2014 at 00:12:45
I like your thinking Gerry, I certainly hope he can emulate the Big Dunc, but the truth is there is only one Big Dunc and Lukaku is currently more like Yakubu than Big Dunc.
Anthony Jones
6 Posted 05/11/2014 at 00:26:56
Bit worrying – all this talk of our most expensive ever signing needing to learn how to play football. Rooney was a complete forward at 18.
Steavey Buckley
7 Posted 05/11/2014 at 00:51:18
Lukaku is EvertonÂ’s most important player. Without him, there is no focal point to the attack. And personally, he should stay up front on the shoulders of the last defenders, than playing deep, because defenders just Â’push up,Â’ and that gives him less room to work in and run past defenders. And that is where most of his mistakes occur, when drops back deep.
Ant Dwyer
8 Posted 05/11/2014 at 02:00:26
Number 7, spot on.
Sam Hoare
9 Posted 05/11/2014 at 04:04:51
IÂ’ve given him some criticism this season and I do think we overpaid considerably for him but IÂ’m always impressed by his apparent desire to learn and improve. I think he has a way to go to become a striker worth 㿈M but time is on his side and he does have the undoubted ability to score goals. If he can learn to hold the ball up a bit better and link play then he will prove worth the investment and then some.

He could do worse than watch some clips of Bony; although he wasnÂ’t at his best against us, there was one moment when he took down a long ball perfectly to spin away from Jagielka and then played a beautifully weighted through-ball to present Shelvey with a decent chance. If Romelu can add that type of centre-forward play to his game, I will be happy.

Harold Matthews
10 Posted 05/11/2014 at 04:40:49
Right now I'll be happy if this toe injury disappears and he regains his zip.
Mark Andersson
11 Posted 05/11/2014 at 05:07:50
Anthony @8, you sort of have a point... but how much would an 18-year-old Rooney cost today.
Terence Leong
12 Posted 05/11/2014 at 05:04:22
Anthony Jones #6, with all due respect -

1) Players like Rooney doesn't always come along the production line.

2) It depends on what you mean by the "complete forward", no other way to improve (and by whose standards), or have gotten all the fundamentals bedded in (and again, by whose standards).

3) It is unimaginable that however talented players are, they cannot learn from someone else.

4) Even the world class Christiano Ronaldo took a few seasons of highly inconsistent performances with little end product (with presumably good guidance from Fergie & staff, and a good dose of right attitude) to finally "get it right" at the ripe old age of 23 or 24 years old.

So, a healthy dose of perspective is needed here.

I for one, am glad that the player is humble enough to learn from ex and more experienced players.

Darren Hind
13 Posted 05/11/2014 at 06:24:00
This'll be interesting.

We were comparing Lukaku to Bony after the match on Saturday and the general consensus was that Lukaku would get more goals, but Bony's aggression makes him a better player.

Bony has a "fuck you" attitude about him, a nastiness that Lukaku doesn't seem to have. Big Dunc had it in spades, especially for the big games.

Question is: Can Ferguson instill that into Lukaku? Can you instill an aggression if it isn't already there?

This isn't an attack on Lukaku, I think he has other fantastic attributes and will score plenty, but you need to be a street fighter to be able to hold the ball up.

Paul Andrews
14 Posted 05/11/2014 at 06:49:12
Fair comment. At the moment, Romelu is too nice. He needs to be more aggressive; in my opinion, that would make him an even better player.

On the odd occasion he puts his shoulder into an opponent they bounce off him.

No better teacher than Big Dunc. Remember how the penny dropped for Sharpy after a season with Andy?

Mark Griffiths
15 Posted 05/11/2014 at 06:55:48
He should go and have a word with Mark Hughes – I don't remember anyone holding the ball up better than him.
Chad Schofield
16 Posted 05/11/2014 at 07:35:35
How many times have people complained that this (and first touch) is missing from his game? Now he addresses it, he's a waste of money because he's not the '"complete striker".

Worst case scenario is these extra sessions keep him out of the team more because of our packed schedule and everything starts to click nearer the end of his contract. OK, not worst case – worst would be he gets injured or spontaneously combusts – but at this stage of his career he should be learning from top experienced pros. If we only see real results nearer the end of his contract, he'll have grown as an asset. If he rests on his potential, he'll have probably lost value or be worth the same.

Rooney was exceptional, but we didn't pay 㿆M for him (or sell him for 㿞M). Regardless of whether people think he's met his potential, unless he lets his contract run down, can anyone see him leaving Man Utd for less than what they paid us?

I agree with the nastiness to an extent though, but Eto'o's just ruthless rather than nasty... so I think both as mentors will be brilliant for Rom.

Matt Traynor
17 Posted 05/11/2014 at 07:56:40
As long as he doesn't miss half as many games as Ferguson due to injury/suspension he'll be alright...

Otherwise agree with the views of Steavey (#7), Terrence (#12) and Darren (#13). Lukaku will always have his detractors, probably the same fans who idolised Ferguson despite his inability to to appear on a consistent basis.

(And for what it's worth, I thought Ferguson, on his day, was supremely talented - not just in the air, but the guy was good with his feet, and had great speed of thought - yet another "gem" in a crock of shit for most of his time. A shame "his days" were too few and far between.)

Dennis Stevens
18 Posted 05/11/2014 at 08:44:45
As I recall, Joe Royle was also criticised for not being aggressive enough but was still a top centre forward. I think Martinez was willing to pay so much for Lukaku because he believes the lad will develop into a much better player during his time at Everton & so increase in value, if & when we do end up selling him.
Phil Walling
19 Posted 05/11/2014 at 08:42:56
Like so many of our current players, Lukaku is 'decent enough' without being outstanding. Did Kenwright get ripped off when persuaded to fork out that record fee? Almost certainly, but he did back his manager's call and we may have to wait a couple of years before reaching an informed verdict.

Can he learn from Dunc? Of course, and he's modest enough to admit that he admires much of Naismith's work.

Now, I hope he will shut up and concentrate on sticking them goals in!

Sue Brown
20 Posted 05/11/2014 at 08:30:27
It's good Rom knows where he needs to improve and is willing to learn from Big Dunc and Eto'o. The constant references to his "record transfer fee" can only put pressure on him and be like a 㿈 million millstone round his neck, so let's give him time to get 100% fit and prove he's got that potential we know is there.
Trevor Lynes
21 Posted 05/11/2014 at 08:47:32
The problem with Dunc was he played in a pretty poor Everton team and we always resorted to pumping high balls up to him for flick-ons. We may as well have played without a midfield at all. Unfortunately Ferguson had a temper which boiled over too many times, unlike other similar players like Shearer who played hard but did not get themselves sent off.

I would love Lukaku to improve his actual ball control as he is much more like Drogba than Ferguson. The lad is still young and centre-forwards normally do not develop fully at an early age.

Rooney really was not a centre forward although he scored goals frequently. Barkley is more like Rooney and he needs to start scoring more often. If he can do it in training then he should shoot more often during first team games when it is more important.

I have said for ages that we are not scoring enough from attacking midfielders. Only Naismith is chipping in and we are really missing Mirallas. Pienaar, Osman and Barkley are not scoring at all.

Even McCarthy and Barry should be contributing more in an attacking sense. We seem to be the only team who are playing with two defensive midfielders in front of four defenders and a goal keeper.

Tony J Williams
22 Posted 05/11/2014 at 09:01:44
No down side to this, a player who was fantastic holding up the ball and laying off teaching a player who has a problem with holding the ball up and laying it off.

What's not to like?

If he can channel some of Ferguson's mental aggression then that again is only a good thing. I wish a few more players in our side would get that Ferguson/Cahill nasty little bastard bug too.

I also think that people should stop focusing on the 㿈m price tag, that had absolutely nothing to do with Lukaku. It was all down to Everton/Chelsea representatives and his agent.

He is who is and the price tag was not of his making.

James Stewart
23 Posted 05/11/2014 at 09:10:37
LukakuÂ’s strength is not playing with his back to goal and never will be. We need to put a lot more through balls and crosses in for him to run on to. We would then see the best of him.

I felt sorry for him and EtoÂ’o in the last game. Two of the best finishers in the game and we simply never put the ball in the box. Infuriating.

Patrick Murphy
24 Posted 05/11/2014 at 09:14:50
Goodison has often been a difficult place to perform for many Everton footballers over the decades, and the present squad also seem on occasion to 'freeze' in front of a packed house at the Old Lady,

In order to perform to their full potential, the players need to be relaxed and able to express themselves fully and shouldn't go into battle worrying about what they should be doing but rather they should concentrate on what they can do and the rest will follow naturally.

Extra sessions at Finch Farm are obviously a good thing and listening to fellow pros and experienced people can only help develop players but, at the end of the day, it's what the individual does on the pitch that counts. Only the player himself can provide that... free transfer or massive fee – it doesn't matter to the Goodison faithful because a player is either producing or he isn't.

Becoming a special player at Everton is difficult but, if they are working hard and displaying a passion for the shirt, that is usually a good start... However, if they look listless or lethargic, then many in the crowd find that intolerable as they have to produce an acceptable performance at least five days a week in their employment and their rewards are far less than most footballers.

Max Wilson
25 Posted 05/11/2014 at 09:38:05
We've got three really talented strikers. One at 36 probably knows all he'll ever be able to learn by now, I refer to Eto'o. Lukaku and Long obviously have lots to add to their games. Personally I think it's about time we saw Long on the bench and coming on. We saw Rooney when he was a babby.
Phil Head
26 Posted 05/11/2014 at 09:53:00
"I can learn a lot from Duncan about holding up the ball," Lukaku says. "Even sometimes in training he'll stop and show me something. The way he holds up the ball is so impressive."

I presume he means AFTER he's taken 6 or 7 touches to actually control the ball? By which time the whole of the opposition is behind the ball. Now that's how I remember Duncan Ferguson!

The whole subject of Ferguson just makes me question the intelligence of fellow Everton fans. First of all, we're talking about a player who was present in truly terrible Everton sides, playing long-ball football, a side that was forced to play long ball because it took Duncan so many touches to control the ball, that we couldn't possibly counter-attack sides, thus limiting us into a very one-dimensional side.

Yes, he was a big-game player; Yes, I understand having a hard man in your side gives some fans a sense of pride, but let's be honest about this, Duncan Ferguson was a dreadful footballer and the only thing Romelu could learn from him, is to be more aggressive in his play, and that's it. The fact that we have both Duncan Ferguson and David Unsworth in our coaching set-up both embarrasses and worries me immensely.

Tim Spring
27 Posted 05/11/2014 at 10:09:52
Ronaldo stays behind at training and is given plaudits for his attitude and willingness to improve, even above his already exceptionally high standards.

Lukaku does it, and people say he's a 㿈 million striker and shouldn't need extra practice. No logic there at all.

I remember reading about Connor Wickham when he went to Sunderland. He basically thought he was big time and was the last in to training and the first to leave. Fundamentally he didn't have the attitude to improve and it has stunted his development.

Lukaku appears to want to get better and fast track his, and our success by putting a shift in. It's great news. COYB!!!!

Jim Bennings
29 Posted 05/11/2014 at 10:31:54

I would slightly alter your words to

"Lukaku SHOULD be Everton's most important player" — Sadly he is NOT our most important player just yet. I would put the likes of Coleman, McCarthy and even Mirallas ahead of his importance to the team at present.

That doesn't however mean he cannot become a our most important player but to do that he needs to produce bigger performance levels; his goal return is quite good as it stands but he should forever be challenging himself to do better because he can do better.

Forget the transfer fee — this is all about the man himself. It's entirely up to Romelu how he takes his career and if he has enough passion and hunger to become one of the greats.

Derek Knox
31 Posted 05/11/2014 at 10:42:50
Gerry Quinn (#2), the head-butting and throttling lessons don't start till next week, in preparation for the next derby.
Nigel Gregson
32 Posted 05/11/2014 at 11:15:14
And yet he's looking less effective every week. Over-coaching?
Les Fitzpatrick
33 Posted 05/11/2014 at 11:19:43
Nice one, Derek 31....God help us if Big Dunc is coaching him. I cannot think why Bobby lets him near our first-team players. An overrated thug of a player, in my opinion... are we allowed to say that on here???
Jay Rollinson
34 Posted 05/11/2014 at 11:39:55
Who was it again who scored that great goal v Man Utd, where they took one touch to instantly control the ball, spun, and sent a screamer from the edge of the box past Schmeichel into the top corner?
Anthony Jones
35 Posted 05/11/2014 at 11:37:29
The fee being paid to Chelsea (plus the player's substantial salary) is fundamental to assessing whether he lives up to expectations. This is not a player that came through the development squad.

Rooney is (was?) an extreme example of the natural centre-forward, but is it not the case that centre-forwards tend to be the players that are the most instinctive? Anyone who has played themselves will remember centre-forwards that were always one step ahead of the other players on the pitch; players that think about the next phase whilst repositioning to receive a pass and control it into space.

Trapping a ball and holding it up should be in the blood of a >㾶 million footballer even in today's inflated market. This player has some great attributes but I would rather he kept discussion of his weaknesses on the training pitch.

James Morgan
36 Posted 05/11/2014 at 11:45:23
Phil Head, your opinion of Ferguson's and Unsworth's playing days aside, quality of player doesn't necessarily translate to quality of coach.
Jim Knightley
37 Posted 05/11/2014 at 11:31:37
Anthony, what has this got to do with Rooney? Who certainly wasn't a complete striker at 18, but that is an interesting piece of historical reconstitution by you.

Was Cristiano Ronaldo a complete player at 18? You know, the world's best striker, the every trying to improve Ronaldo?

Was Drogba? The Drogba Lukaku is often compared to. The drogba who looked like he couldn't control a ball at times, especially early on in his Premier League career?

Do many of the posters on here know something that I don't? I.e, that it is impossible to improve a player's touch and control, because they are some peculiar qualities that cannot be taught?

I wonder... could it be possible that a player, who is already capable of a 1 in 2 Premier League record at 21, could perhaps improve the problematic parts of his game via coaching? That he could spend time working on the technical side of his game which has quite possibly been neglected as coaching has focused on his strength and finishing ability? Could it be that Lukaku might, like the vast majority of strikers, improve with time? Could it be that Lukaku's desire to work on his game with an Everton legend might be a good thing? Because it illustrates a desire to improve his game for himself and the team?

John Voigt
38 Posted 05/11/2014 at 10:57:10
Premier League players that score 15+ goals a season are rare gems. Lukaku scored 17 his first Premier League season and 15 last season. With 4 goals (and an assist) he's on track to do it for the 3rd year running.

Scoring 15 goals usually puts you in the group of top 10 scorers. That's good enough for me and warrants the fee Everton paid.

As far as the fee goes I've heard it's not 㿈M unless Everton make Champions League. I'll also point out that fees for strikers are higher than other positions. Lukaku also carries a premium because he counts as a home grown player. Everton bought a 21-year-old player. He's likely going to play in the Premier League well into his 30s. Looking into the future I see fees for strikers going up. The TV money isn't going down. 㿈M may well look like a huge bargain in 3-5 years.

If Lukaku's first touch does get better within 2-3 years and he becomes a 20+ goalscorer, how much will he be worth? I could easily see Lukaku's value on the open market being 㿞M+ in 2-3 years. If he doesn't improve a whole bunch, Everton have a reliable 15-goal-a-season striker (and Everton need more players that have the physical presence of Lukaku).

If you look at the last 10 years of Premier League top 10 scorers, you see mostly gifted strikers that play for the big-money clubs and those players are on wages double or triple what Everton can pay. Here in the USA we'd say that Lukaku is good "bang for the buck".

Last season only two strikers score 20+ goal in the Premier League and they both played for Liverpool. That means 19 out of 20 teams didn't have a 20-goal scorer. Every fan of every team wants the main striker to score virtually every game but in real life it doesn't happen often.

I checked the list of Premier League top 10 scorers for the last 10 seasons. No Everton player has made that list more than once. Lukaku has a good chance of becoming the only Everton player to reach this lofty perch (and if he doesn't this season, he's got plenty more seasons to do it).

All-in-all, I think Everton are very fortunate that Lukaku was willing to sign a long-term deal. If you look at the teams that have similar revenue streams to Everton, you don't see very many players that have Lukaku's scoring track record or his potential. I personally would much rather have Lukaku on my team than Wilfried Bony (and Lukaku is 5-6 years younger than Bony).

Brian Harrison
39 Posted 05/11/2014 at 11:52:02
I think it is very refreshing to hear a big money buy say he doesn't think he knows everything and is willing to learn.

Maybe Roberto could have a session with Joe and Howard...

Graham Mockford
40 Posted 05/11/2014 at 11:56:32
So the guy whose best Premier League haul was 11 in a season and scored 1 in 4 is coaching a 21-year-old whose record is already twice as good?

Maybe he will tell him to get a tattoo.

Tony J Williams
41 Posted 05/11/2014 at 12:14:25
Or maybe, just maybe he is teaching him the aspect of his game that is ten times better than Lukaku's Graham?

Interesting reading Phil Head's post, haven't had a wum on here for quite a long time.

Jay Rollinson
42 Posted 05/11/2014 at 12:12:06

Lukaku says Ferguson is giving him tips on how to hold the ball up and also how to finish with his head. No matter what anyone thinks of his merits as a marksman, they were two areas Ferguson excelled in. The same areas Lukaku currently falls short at.

I really don't see any downside here.

Why people need to try and pick holes in every single statement the players or manager come out with is beyond me.

Graham Mockford
43 Posted 05/11/2014 at 12:17:47
Not a wind up from me, Tony, honest... not sure what aspect of his game is 10 times better though.

True he was more aggressive, and he had some truly great games, especially against Man Utd. But his career overall was one of massively unfulfilled potential.

My post was admittedly a little tongue-in-cheek but his reputation does not really match the reality of his career. The fans obviously loved him because of those days were he stuck it to our opponents but, in the cold light of day, there were not enough goals, too many unnecessary sending offs (9!) and too many disinterested days.

I would suggest those fans who like to call out Rom but peddle the 'Big Dunc' legend are being a little disingenuous.

Graham Mockford
44 Posted 05/11/2014 at 12:24:46

I agree, Duncan may prove a better coach than player. I'm not really knocking that and I'm sure Rom can benefit.

My point was really that Rom has become a bit of a whipping boy for some, probably because of the price tag.

Tony J Williams
45 Posted 05/11/2014 at 12:34:42
Sorry Graham, didn't mean it to sound like you were a wum. I was referring to Richard, I mean Phil Head.
Andrew Ellams
46 Posted 05/11/2014 at 12:40:32
Phil Head, why does having Ferguson and Unsworth on the coaching staff worry you? They were better footballers than pretty much all the current managers in the Premier League.
Steavey Buckley
47 Posted 05/11/2014 at 12:42:35
Jim Bennings: In all 3 games Everton have won in the league, Lukaku has scored in each of them. And last season was the same: when he was injured, Everton won less games. That's why Lukaku is our most important player, when he is not playing or not playing well, Everton won't win as many games.

As for Rooney, when he was at Everton in his last 2 seasons, he scored 15 goals or 7.5 per season. Lukaku last season averaged about a goal every 2 games. That's what I call a complete goalscorer. But he will always do well, when Barkley is playing as well. A good striker needs someone to provide space, and Barkley does that, by taking defenders to him from Lukaku.

So Everton with a fit Barkley and Lukaku will always do well, but can't wait for the return of Mirallas, as well. He gives the blues something extra as well.

Trevor Lynes
48 Posted 05/11/2014 at 12:47:24
Phil Head is partially right and I do agree that the side he played for was pretty poor. He actually joined us after being released from prison for his 4th arrest for assaults on people including one on crutches. He was sent off nine times and that is letting the side down IMO.

I played with a few nutters in my time who were very similar. He was transferred out by Johnson and Newcastle kept him for two seasons then sold him back to us at half what they paid for him.

We did play very one-dimensional football during his time with us and he only scored double figures in the league in two seasons during the time he was with us. One season, he actually played 27 games and scored once.

I reckon players become more revered once they have finished playing and Duncan was certainly no legend in my book. He had some great games but he was a liability and he was certainly over aggressive. IMO, he never reached his full potential as he had bags of ability but was too indisciplined.

Matt Thomas
49 Posted 05/11/2014 at 13:04:58
Re:- Darren HindÂ’s comments. In the early Â’80s we had a young Scottish forward who was too nice to be a typical centre-forward who needed to learn how to bully opposing centre halves... The signing of a certain Andy Gray told Sharpie to toughen up and stop being too nice. After a short while, Sharpie became a nasty tough player through listening to and playing alongside Gray.

Sometimes itÂ’s all about confidence and not being intimidated, people forget Lukaku is only 21 yrs of age, letÂ’s judge him when heÂ’s 23 / 24 years old before drawing any hasty conclusions.

David Harrison
50 Posted 05/11/2014 at 15:02:00
Although I agree with some posters that see under achievement, Dunc had a brilliant touch. In fact, the problem for me at that time was the limitations of other players, who often sought the easy ball and just lumped it up to the big guy. For me, he was a great player on the floor and would have suited Roberto's methods down to the ground... so to speak.
Graham Mockford
51 Posted 05/11/2014 at 16:29:12
Matt #49

Nice try but Sharpy was already a top centre forward when Gray arrived. The season prior to Grays arrival he scored 15 in 29.

Gray and Sharp were a great partnership, anyone who was at the Bayern game when they bullied them into submission will tell you that.

But Andy Gray, a proper Everton legend despite his short tenure only got into the side once Inchy got done by Brian Marwood at Goodison in the November ( I think).

Up to that point they were a great partnership. I still remember a great goal the two of them scored away at the old Maine Road. If that injury hadn't happened, I do believe they would have gone on to be one of the outstanding forward combinations ever seen at Everton, unfortunately Inchy was never the same player again.

And just to link to my previous comments Graeme Sharp, who is not too popular in these parts due to his links with the current administration was ten times the centre forward Duncan Ferguson ever was.

Anthony Carey
52 Posted 05/11/2014 at 16:42:54
Phil Head, #26, has it about right. I remember times when we were ahead in a game and then didnÂ’t come away with the points because Ferguson was sent off. He must have thought that it was an advantage for his team mates to play with ten men. How arrogant!

He was never a team player and it saddens me to hear young Evertonians, who never even saw Ferguson play, revere him as some sort of Everton hard-case hero. Now, Dave Hickson; there was a man to look up to.
Trevor Lynes
53 Posted 05/11/2014 at 18:32:30
Sharp was a great centre forward and with Lineker they were the best pairing since Young and Vernon but, unfortunately, Gary moved on after that one fantastic season.

I think that Lineker scored 30 league goals and 40 goals in all that season with Sharpie assisting in at least 20 of them. Sharp scored about 20 himself and the season after Lineker left; I think Derek Mountfield the centre half scored 14. The last guy who scored over 20 league goals was Tony Cottee I believe.

Ferguson was never a big goal scorer but was idolised for his aggressive style of play. As I said earlier the man had the ability but was a liability. Someone said he played in the 1995 FA Cup Final winning side. We just avoided relegation that season and Ferguson actually came on as a sub in the final after about an hour.

Many talk of SouthallÂ’s brilliance in defying a very good Man Utd team but Dave Watson won the MotM award. That was the Â’Dogs of WarÂ’ team that was bloody awful to watch but were difficult to beat once we got rid of Walker as manager. We never won a game until November in that season!! God knows what the negative articles would have been like in those days.

I think Barry Horne scored a wonder goal against Wimbledon that saved us. I know that later Barry was a science teacher at the Kings College in Chester.

Paul Hewitt
54 Posted 05/11/2014 at 19:15:25
I hope Ferguson doesn't teach him how to use his head?
Paul Dark
55 Posted 05/11/2014 at 19:47:02
I think we are so lucky to have Lukaku. He's a fantastic player.

And as for Duncan, words fail me ... utter legend!

It's a dream team, even on the training ground.


Phil Walling
56 Posted 05/11/2014 at 20:55:12
Big Dunc has got better with each year since his retirement. Amazing how he's had to wait until the King of Ticci-Tacci arrives before getting sight of the first team.

Opposites attract, I guess!

Anthony Jones
58 Posted 05/11/2014 at 21:52:10
Jim, 37: I think you just broke the rhetoricometer. I suppose the crux of the argument is this: You believe that top professionals lack basic football skills until coaches get them on the training pitch. Well, I don't.

Yes, Ronaldo (along with lesser players) has improved with experience, but did he ever have a poor first touch or lack the ability to keep the ball under control with a player at his back? I seriously doubt it.

The reality — not liked by the sycophantic media nor the coaches and managers who are paid astronomical salaries at clubs like ours — is that many sporting attributes do not improve substantially with coaching.

Agility and strength are good examples of attributes that can be greatly improved with training. Balance and close control (critical to holding the ball up) can be improved of course but not to the extent that you are implying (cue outrage!).

I will leave you with a question, seeing as you have a flare for asking them. While Lukaku is thinking through what Duncan told him on the training pitch about holding the ball up as the ball is played into his feet at pace, how can he process what is happening around him and make a split second decision on who he is going to lay the ball off to?

Jim Knightley
59 Posted 05/11/2014 at 22:50:53
Anthony... when did I say that? I would suggest reading more carefully. Do you think Lukaku lacks basic skills then?

Lukaku can, and needs, to improve his touch and control, just as hundreds of top players before him have. Lukaku's control is not abysmal, it is just lacking in terms of the pace and intensity of the Premier League. He is not lacking basic ability, he is simply lacking in at the highest level, and his touch unsurprisingly looks better when his confidence is up, which it is not at the moment. It is something which can be improved upon, and it is a fictional suggestion to say it can't be (as some suggest on these boards sometimes).

Again, I would ask you to relate what this discussion has to do with Rooney, as I did in my initial post which you ignored. I would also ask whether you were watching the same player as me, because I did not see a complete striker at 18.

As it goes, I think Lukaku has the potential to outscore Rooney. Lukaku's Prem record is better than Rooney's was, despite Rooney playing in a more dominant side. He will never possess the technical ability of Rooney, and will never assist as many. But that's not the point, is it? He is not a Rooney type striker; he is a striker whose game is based around strength, pace and finishing.

I think, whenever we criticise Lukaku so roundly on here, we should take a look at his goal record. Some on here make him sound like a dud, not the 1-in-2 striker he is. He is off a little bit at the moment, which is not surprising given the football he has been playing, his toe injury, and his age. Young players are inconsistent but he will have a good season again, if he avoids injury. He needs some patience and not the constant criticism of the assuming sensationalist football fan.

Anthony Jones
60 Posted 05/11/2014 at 23:09:54

A. See post 6.

B. Yes, I do think that holding the ball up is a basic skill.

C. Your observation that Lukaku needs to improve his touch and control supports my argument. I will repeat: He is our most expensive ever signing! He is not from the development squad. I would accept that touch and control can be genuinely improved in teenagers but Lukaku is no longer one of them.

D. No sensationalism here. My original post was simply a reaction to Lukaku's irritating quote. I actually like this player for attributes other than his ability to hold up the ball. Perhaps those that read my original post and reacted to it are projecting simplistic generalist arguments onto me to suppress the fear flowing from the thought that their star forward may actually be flawed?

John Daley
62 Posted 06/11/2014 at 00:08:18
Trevor Lynes,

Barry Horne actually scored in the 3-2 Wimbledon 'great escape' – the last day of the season prior to the one in which Joe Royle came back as manager.

Although they were dubbed the 'Dogs of War' by the manager himself (in reference to his midfield grafters), they didn't just play shite football as you suggest. Under Mike Walker, yes, that allegation might stick and also under Kendall Mark 3. Under Royle, the side were instantly transformed, went on a good run and produced top six form for the rest of the season. There were memorable league wins over Man Utd and the RS, a 5-0 rout of Norwich in the FA Cup and one of the best performances ever seen from an Everton side in the 4-1 FA Cup semi-final win against Spurs. They were capable of producing good stuff but could also get stuck in when the need arose.

Further good football was seen the following season with Kanchelskis running riot on one wing and Limpar rediscovering his early career form on the other. Even in the first half of the season in which Royle left there were some memorable performances including a barnstorming win against title contenders Newcastle and a 7-0 thrashing of Southampton that saw them top six at Christmas.

The Dogs of War tag disguises the fact there were actually some very decent footballers in the side around that time. Ablett, Stuart, Hinchcliffe, Kanchelskis, Limpar, Barmby, Speed and, yes, Ferguson himself, weren't exactly cloggers.

John Daley
63 Posted 06/11/2014 at 00:25:01
"My original post was simply a reaction to Lukaku's irritating quote"

What was 'irritating' about it? If the player himself believes he is going to get some benefit from it, then what exactly is the problem with him seeking extra input to help improve his game?

Harold Matthews
64 Posted 06/11/2014 at 01:36:52
Hinchcliffe. Now there was a lad who could take a corner.
John Daley
65 Posted 06/11/2014 at 01:59:14
He sure could, Harold.

At one point, they became such a weapon that it seemed almost a 50/50 chance of a goal every time he stepped up to take one. Whipped into the danger area with pace and swerve. Perfect.

Shame the best we can produce at the moment are delicate floaters that fail to beat the first man.

Anthony Hughes
66 Posted 06/11/2014 at 08:07:16
Could we get Hinchcliffe back to coach Baines on corner taking?
Joseph Clarke
67 Posted 06/11/2014 at 08:27:56
Ferguson was the worst kind of footballer – a cheat. Loads of ability, played for himself, and lots of times didn’t bother playing at all. Seamus Coleman will probably finish up with a better scoring record. Hero, my arse.
Joseph Clarke
68 Posted 06/11/2014 at 09:14:09
What is Ferguson teaching EtoÂ’o about scoring goals and being a successful footballer?
Jim Knightley
69 Posted 06/11/2014 at 10:02:03
Anthony... did I say that you were a sensationalist? Do you have trouble reading? I assume that you do, as you've again failed to respond to my questions about Rooney.

Unbelievably, my post wasn't purely aimed at you – hence the representation of some general points, like the peculiar belief that touch and hold-up play cannot be improved.

But, I'll give you a pure response, just for you: You brought up Rooney initially, and did so pointlessly because Rooney and Lukaku have utterly different styles. I assume you brought up Rooney purely because he played for Everton, and at the time went for a similar fee (although inflation relative to increasing spending fees means it is not comparable really). You claim that touch and control can be improved in teenagers, but not Lukaku? Can you please for me, and I'm sure a few others, explain this bizarre claim? Can a 19-year-old improve in the way a 21-year-old can't? Do you have some secret table which defines when and how a player can improve, which you are keeping from us?

Players improve all of the time, in different ways. You fail to respond to the Drogba point interestingly – do you not think he improved his touch and control at a later stage than Lukaku? There are plenty of players who improve and fail all the time. Do you watch football apart from Everton?

If you do, let me turn your attention to Arsenal. Aaron Ramsey looked dead in the water two seasons ago. The fans were sending obscene abuse his way. His touch and control looked abysmal, and his future at Arsenal was in doubt. The next season (last season), he was incredible. He was scoring at a rate of almost 1 in 2, his touch was perfect, and he became essential to Arsenal. This season, the picture is different again. He is miss-controlling, miss-passing, his flicks are not coming off. He is now again facing the scrutiny of fans and the media.

What about Luis Suarez?

The example is clear enough: players are not always consistent, and it does not mean that skills which are apparently lacking, are completely lacking. Lukaku has shown for us at times, and notably for West Brom, that he can hold up a ball, and that his touch is not horrendous. Consistently, it is a problem with his game, as I and others have acknowledged. But to state that it cannot be improved upon, as your last post idiotically implies, is to ignore hundreds of players in this league and other leagues who have proved otherwise.

This is a difficult argument to explain, because it is so blindingly simple – you state "I would accept that touch and control can be genuinely improved in teenagers but Lukaku is no longer one of them", and ignore in the process so many of the players who have proved they can be improved into their 20s.

But, if you think that Ramsey, Suarez, Drogba, Walcott never improved that technical side of their games, please let me know. I look forward to having that discussion with you. I'd also love to know what else can't be improved, for future reference – passing? shooting? composure? Because, if you can't improve a player's touch, control, hold-up play etc... can you improve anything?

Ray Roche
70 Posted 06/11/2014 at 10:48:17
John Daley @62

Good points, John. Unfortunately, the Dogs Of War tag has blinded some people to the quality that we had then. The players you mention would walk into our squad even today.

Jim Knightley

Jim, I think that many fans are impatient with Lukaku because of the 㿈M price tag. Fans expect the finished article for that kind of money and can point at players who cost less, and eventually delivered more, but not necessarily in their early seasons at their clubs.

Suarez had a worse goals-to-game ratio than Lukaku for his first two seasons at Liverpool but eventually became a World Class player. And World Class prick. However, his record at Ajax before he moved across the park was exceptional and, as the RS paid less for him than we paid for Lukaku, it is easy to see why our fans can get a bit impatient.

Jim Knightley
71 Posted 06/11/2014 at 12:23:26
I can understand it, Ray, but I think football fans need to get a bit more patient in general. He is only just 21, and players are very inconsistent at that age.

I think pointing at other prices, unless they are truly relevant, is itself an irrelevant process. Firstly, we brought Lukaku for his age, what he is already (ie, a 1-in-2 Prem striker), and as one of the most promising players in the world. Suarez cost less, as you pointed out, but came with a lot of risk from the Dutch league, whereas Lukaku's Premier League quality was confirmed.

There are some strikers that have cost less, and some that have cost more and failed (Soldado cost a similar amount, and Torres and Carroll stand as examples of the major fuck-ups). I think though, that the signings of the likes of Negredo (㾼-20M), Jovetic (㿅M?), Soldado (㿆M) illustrate the kind of price top strikers go for. These were all performing in other European Leagues, but were all older than Lukaku.

We also have a genuine problem which we can't ignore: We are not in the Champions League. The strikers we can buy and attract are therefore limited, and personally I think Lukaku is as good a coup as we can realistically have imagined and fits in perfectly with the burgeoning youth ethos of the Martinez era.

Obviously there are strikers better than him in this league, but they are a lot older than him too. I'd also prefer Lukaku to some of the alternatives. Bony is thrown around a lot, but he is older and would have cost at least 㿀M too. He also has clear issues with his game, which are often ignored by highlight watches. I'd also prefer him than Welbeck or Balotelli at 㾼M, because I feel that he offers more, and has more potential, than both.

We won't know whether Lukaku was truly worth his price tag or not for 2-3 seasons. But I think people limiting his capacity to improve because of strange notions of what a player can get better at, is an unnecessary process. Whatever Lukaku may or may not become, I'm confident that he can return at least 15 Premier League goals a season, and that buying him has improved the team markedly for many years to come.

Ray Roche
72 Posted 06/11/2014 at 13:14:59
Jim, I can agree with much of your response but, as you admit, we "won't know whether Lukaku was truly worth his price tag or not for 2-3 seasons" which makes him something of a gamble but I'm not sure we could afford to blow the vast majority of our transfer budget on a gamble.

I've said before that I'm glad that we got Lukaku and I really do hope that he becomes a world beater but I can't help thinking that we were shafted by Chelsea. Okay, he IS a 1-in-2 at the moment and has been for the past two seasons; I just hope he can continue in that vein and that Ferguson can help unlock the player we sometimes see flashes of.

Phil Lewis
73 Posted 07/11/2014 at 11:38:11
Players should not be held responsible for their price tags. Centre forwards are generally judged on their goals return, that is an undeniable fact. Lukaku's goal stats so far are good and I feel sure in time will be great. The boy, which after all is all he is, will mature into a great centre forward.

I have watched Everton for over 50 years and, like everybody else, can't help but play the comparison game when appraising players, but I have to remind myself that it's how a centre forward is deployed and the service he receives that contributes vitally to his goals tally. I was never a Latchford fan but his goals spoke for themselves. I also preferred the way Everton played prior to Lineker joining the club, but without question he was the best finisher I have ever seen in a blue shirt. Almost every time Lineker received the ball, you expected a goal.

It's ridiculous to judge Lukaku at this point in his career. Give the boy a chance to mature, I believe, into a great centre forward.

Geoff Evans
74 Posted 07/11/2014 at 17:02:27
The best centre forwards don't go under, over or around brick walls they go through them.

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