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Lukaku: I needed winter wake-up call

by | 23/04/2015  Comments (36)  jump

(Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

Romelu Lukaku says that being dropped during the worst of Everton's mid-season slump provided the motivation he needed to get back to his best form.

The Belgian striker admits that he struggled in the early part of the campaign playing through a niggling toe injury that might better have been served with rest but there was also plenty of criticism of his performances once fit as the Blues lost back-to-back games against Southampton and Stoke in December.

Roberto Martinez took the step of dropping Lukaku from the starting XI for the following games at Newcastle and Hull but the 21 year-old returned hungrier than ever after getting that "wake-up call" from his manager.

I didn't have the easiest start to the season because I played with injuries and that is something I should never have done, Lukaku said in the Liverpool Echo.

But I love to play so much that I took the gamble and the risk to play and it took time to get to my level.

"When [the manager] took me out of the team in December I knew I had to wake up.

But when we went on the training camp in Qatar before the Crystal Palace game, I had a very good week and since then I am back to where I was.

It was a wake up call. Maybe I needed that. I reacted well when I came back into the team and I have not looked back since.

The 21 year-old has scored 11 goals in all competitions since being restored to the team and he is hoping to add to that tally now that he has recovered from his latest injury.

"[F]rom January on, I have been performing consistently and showing people what I am about," he continued.

I got the hamstring injury against QPR but haven't missed too many games but now it is up to me to get back where I was. I have been training very hard over the last couple of weeks so I am very happy with the level I am at and that promises a lot for the weekend.

Lukaku was only named on the bench for last weekend's win over Burnley as Martinez eases him back into action but he is expected to be in the starting XI when the Blues take on Manchester United on Sunday.  

Reader Comments (36)

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Paul Jeronovich
1 Posted 23/04/2015 at 20:25:28
A couple against the Mancs will do for me, Rom.
Oscar Huglin
2 Posted 23/04/2015 at 20:29:34
Just show us how good you are on Sunday, please.
Colin Glassar
3 Posted 23/04/2015 at 20:32:45
So he was dropped? I thought this manager didnÂ’t drop his "favourites"?
Mark Andersson
4 Posted 23/04/2015 at 21:19:32
Oh nice one Colin, however the big Belgian was stinking the place out. Martinez just took him out of the firing line as he is one of his signings.

Lukaku is like his manager – full of waffle.

Harold Matthews
5 Posted 24/04/2015 at 00:14:04
Despite being a youngster, Lukaku will not be pleased with the tremendous performances of international team-mate Benteke. Our boy seeks to be number one and heÂ’ll be determined to outshine the Villa hotshot.
David Ellis
6 Posted 24/04/2015 at 03:43:28
Mark (#4)

Lukaku "full of waffle" – yes but he’s Belgian so what do you expect? Likewise his form’s like a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re going to get.

Richard Lyons
7 Posted 24/04/2015 at 06:18:36
"Back to where I was", eh? IÂ’ve yet to see evidence of that...
Terry McLavey
8 Posted 24/04/2015 at 07:24:35
Richard (#7), very good point! Perhaps he means a shit first touch?!
Jim Bennings
9 Posted 24/04/2015 at 09:11:26
Will we ever see the best of any striker at Everton whilst we forever persist with the 4-5-1 formation?

Over the years of sticking rigidly with the same formation, itÂ’s obvious that in two of the last three seasons it has stifled our attacking threat. This will be the second full season, the other being 2012-13, Moyes's last season, that we have failed to score more than three goals in any of the 38 matches.

It does seem to stifle your attacking threat. We can criticize Lukaku for his obvious problems, lack of workrate, terrible first touch, too many poor games... but, when you have a midfield that gives you virtually sod all in the way of support, then being a lone striker would become frustrating even for Suarez or Messi in our team.

Lukaku possibly would have benefited from playing in the Everton team of Tim Cahill supporting the forward and Arteta being the creativity. As it is, you have two defensive midfielders, Barkley who runs and runs but lacks a football brain at the minute, to see when a pass is on, so that leaves just Lennon and Mirallas who can offer ample ammunition or support.

I have doubts over LukakuÂ’s ability, of course (like everyone); heÂ’s not a 㿈 million player, heÂ’s not even yet Champions League material, but, unless we are going to start finding more creativity and more support for whoever plays up front, then I fear the curse of strikers at Everton will long continue.

Perhaps getting more than just one or two players in the penalty box might be a start. How you are ever meant to score many goals like that is beyond me.

Tony J Williams
11 Posted 24/04/2015 at 09:33:44
Jim, what difference does it make not having a 4 for goals in a game?

DoesnÂ’t mean a jot if you win games 1-0 or 4-0 unless goal difference comes into play for one more league place up.

Never understood this, "When was the last time we scored 4/5/6?" mentality, what difference does it make?

The strangest thing this season is that if Lukaku scores 2 more in the last handfull of games, he will become our first 20 goal a season striker since the Yak.... and heÂ’s had a bit of a shite season to be fair.

He is a work in progress and if he stays and matures (and remembers how to control a ball) he may be a very, very useful and important player next season for us.

Max Wilson
12 Posted 24/04/2015 at 09:43:23
First of all his comments show how the early season disasterous dis-organisation meant that he was being asked to play with injuries that needed resting. A key physio eventually left us.

As for the present, six weeks is the normal minimum time a hamstring needs resting and once again it looks like heÂ’s been asked to play when not 100%; although heÂ’s saying now he thinks he is. Playing one up front is less than ideal; especially against the bully boy Van Gaal!

Jim Bennings
13 Posted 24/04/2015 at 09:50:38

Because just once it would be nice to see an Everton side actually score some goals and entertain the fans rather than these scrappy 1-0 wins which, let's be honest, apart from very recently, we have hardly mastered being great at holding on to 1-0 leads anyway.

It doesn’t matter a jot – not providing your defence is that good to win you 19 matches by scoring once or twice tops – but that’s not going to happen. Teams that score goals win game’s. We haven’t won enough games this season and why? Because we haven’t been able to score enough goals to kill teams off. How many times have we blown leads in matches this season and lost points because 1-0 hasn't be a safe sufficient cushion??

Nobody is saying score four every game but having at least a formation or a plan where you can offer more firepower should be in our armoury. LetÂ’s be honest, ten men or not, if Burnley equalized last Saturday, did we look like doing enough to get a second goal?

Harold Matthews
14 Posted 24/04/2015 at 12:36:29
Yes, Jim, scoring goals has been a problem all season but IÂ’m not sure itÂ’s all about having one man up front. Till Lennon arrived with his turbo boost, the slow forward football would have put a damper on three men up front. Defences had time to organize and we could never get past the 18-yd line.

Hopefully we will continue to improve in the final third. Against Burnley, Coleman was actually hitting first-time crosses instead of trying to dribble the fullback. I could hardly believe my eyes.

When Mirallas scored, he was in the box, something he doesnÂ’t always bother to do. Yes, as you mentioned, we need more people making that extra effort to get into the box. We know itÂ’s tiring but all the top teams do it.

Tony J Williams
15 Posted 24/04/2015 at 16:27:12
Good point about Coleman, Harold; I actually commented on this at the game to my mate next to me... I suggested that we had put more crosses in to the box in the first half of the game than the first half of the season.

Jim, I wish we were more entertaining too but I donÂ’t need four goals to be entertained, just good footy. We scored 3 against QPR and were booing our team near the end for our defensive back-passing.

James Flynn
16 Posted 24/04/2015 at 16:26:54
Tricky one.

Most players will say, "I can do it", injuries and all. They donÂ’t want to stay out.

A "wake-up call", though, could be interpreted as Roberto "laying down the law". Lukaku doesnÂ’t say that exactly, but itÂ’s easy to see it that way. I donÂ’t.

Hindsight being what it is, IÂ’ll thank him for trying despite playing with a foot injury. Wonder how much of his "billiard cushion" control of passes had to do with his toe injury? Had to be some, no?

If thereÂ’s a question IÂ’d like answered regarding playing injured, itÂ’s the McCarthy one. Out with a hamstring injury, then sent back in and within 15 minutes heÂ’s holding onto his hammy and substituted. Would love to have been a fly-on-the-wall listening to the reasoning to send him out to play.

Tony J Williams
17 Posted 24/04/2015 at 17:07:52
ItÂ’s difficult to accept that a paid professional actually needs a wake-up call, especially as we fans would gnaw our arms off at a sniff of a chance to play on the hallowed ground.

Play to the best of your abilities every minute you are on the pitch. ItÂ’s not a lot to ask when you are being made a millionaire many times over by a it?

Tony J Williams
18 Posted 24/04/2015 at 17:10:35
James, I see your McCarthy and raise you a Yobo.... the only player I know to limp onto the pitch at the start of the last a few minutes then go off.
Colin Glassar
19 Posted 24/04/2015 at 18:05:16
Just score the goals and less talk, Rom.
Jim Bennings
20 Posted 24/04/2015 at 18:58:28
Just score some goals, Rom, and make sure you get bang into UnitedÂ’s defence on Sunday.

No shit, no standing off them admiring them, just make sure you and your teammates get stuck into them and try to give us at least one memorable win from this absolute tosh season.

Harold Matthews
21 Posted 24/04/2015 at 19:01:45
The Euro goals give the impression he has had a good season which is far from the truth. 8 league goals with help from the penalty spot paints a more accurate picture but heÂ’s not alone. Lennon apart, none of our forward players have had a good season. LetÂ’s hope our new quicker football style puts him back on the right track.
Steve Woods
22 Posted 24/04/2015 at 19:53:21
Spot on Harold.
James Flynn
23 Posted 24/04/2015 at 19:10:13
Tony (2) - "It's difficult to accept that a paid professional actually needs a wake-up call, especially as we fans would gnaw our arms off at a sniff of a chance to play on the hallowed ground."

Knock that shit off. You wouldnÂ’t gnaw your own arm off, for God's sakes, let alone "we fans would..."

"Play to the best of your abilities every minute you are on the pitch. It's not a lot to ask when you are being made a millionaire many times over by a it?"

Here we go. Millionaires they are. Only, ONLY, because thereÂ’s kadzookian millions to be paid to employees to hire and retain them. The "Club", Kenwright and them, are responsible for those millions available? Hahahaha.

Nice try though. WhereÂ’s the "Fucking players; selfish, twatish, greedy... " Only thing youÂ’ve missed.

Michael Kenrick
24 Posted 24/04/2015 at 21:32:00
IÂ’d like to think we expected more of our superstars, Jimmy, than you think we should.

I support Tony’s call — seems you might’ve been watching a little too much US TV where the cult of untouchable superstar personality is rife and they can, of course, do no wrong.

Methinks the good people in the Old Country ainÂ’t so easily duped on their side of the Pond, Jimmy.

Joe Foster
25 Posted 24/04/2015 at 21:56:25
We have all probably had some sort of wake-up call in our lives. Mine was in Brooklyn boozing for 16 hours and going straight to work at 08:30. Thinking this needs to stop before I am put on a plane in a coffin.
Tom Bowers
26 Posted 24/04/2015 at 21:58:49
I have never doubted Rom would be a top class striker and as he is still 21 he has done very well but still improving his craft as far as taking the ball and holding it better.

Once the big fee was paid, everyone expected that much more, as they did from Fellaini when he arrived... but he was also a big disappointment.

However, I am sure, with the right support, he will be tremendous over the next few seasons.

Frank Wade
27 Posted 24/04/2015 at 22:01:08
One thing that has puzzled me this season: "How did I fail to notice LukakuÂ’s lack of touch last season?" The penny has now dropped. He was injured for most of the first part of this season, but still playing.

Why was he playing? Surely, a fit Kone, McAleny or Long would make a better contribution than an unfit Lukaku? Playing an unfit player, a valuable club asset, could lead to further injuries, a serious injury and at the very least, extending the recovery time of the original injury.

Over the years, I have seen Leon Osman play some great games with great energy. I have also seen him struggle to raise a gallop in matches. How can this be? He certainly divided opinion on here.

I guessed that he must be playing while injured. I read his autobiography and this was confirmed, even insisting he was fit to play one game with numerous injections in a broken toe. Strange that he considers this trait/dedication Â’professionalÂ’ and was critical of Big Vic, who would not play unless he was 100% fit.

Dave Ganley
28 Posted 24/04/2015 at 21:08:52
James (#1), yeah, I tend to agree with your thoughts regarding Rom. Most decent players do try to hide injuries and play through it and as a result he has had a very average season at best. We have all seen him struggle on occasion and, in my opinion, he should have been taken out of the firing line much sooner than he was. In fact, Martinez did say at the beginning of the season he had a toe injury so personally I would have got him right before throwing him into action then.

In his interview though, I think Lukaku has elected to use a poor choice of words and in that respect I can understand where Tony (#2) is coming from also. In a season where we have had to endure mind-numbing, listless, dire anti-football with regular morale-sapping results, to hear a player come out and say he needed a wake-up call is, at best, naïve; at worst, a slap in the face (or a kick in the nether regions ) regardless of extenuating circumstances re injury problems.

With the way the season has gone, the least the fans could expect of every player is to show that they care and show to the fans that they have left every ounce of effort and energy on the field at the end of a game. That has most definitely not been the case and then to hear a player say that he needed a wake-up call, then it's not surprising fans get a tad upset.

I like Rom as a player and do believe that he will go on to be very good but he is far from the finished article and until he is then he would be better advised to keep quiet and carry on working at his game to be that very good player.

As a side issue, Harold, I think I must have been asleep at recent games because I cant recall witnessing any quicker football style, I'm afraid... granted we managed to get into the penalty area and attempt a few shots against the bottom of league team but quick football style??? Hmmm bless you for being positive though.

Doug Harris
29 Posted 24/04/2015 at 22:56:53
Are you or are you not fit...?

What more needs to be asked?

For me, Yes, I want to play as any decent footballer does .but masquerading a fitness you don't have is kidding your payroll managers, yourself and the fans...

In reflection, that has been happening all season with a few of our squad.

Jim Bennings
30 Posted 24/04/2015 at 23:25:55
Quick football and Everton under Martinez donÂ’t and will never go in the same sentence.
Ross Edwards
31 Posted 25/04/2015 at 00:30:18
Ah. So if Martinez says that a player is Â’injuredÂ’, in reality theyÂ’ve actually been dropped? Noted.

I wondered why Distin had disappeared off the face of the Earth for example.

A couple of goals tomorrow would do nicely. The game will give us a much better idea of where we are at than a scrappy, lucky win against relegation fodder like Burnley.

Darren Hind
32 Posted 25/04/2015 at 02:08:43
"Lennon embarrassed the rest of us", "We don't practice corners", "We didnt actually have a formation", "Talk of relegation was a bunch of garbage"... "I needed a kick up the arse"

If you don't feel you are depressed enough by what's gone one this season, just get yourself down to Finch Farm and interview a player!

Harold Matthews
33 Posted 25/04/2015 at 03:06:52
Barry to Coleman, forward to Lennon, drives forward, shoots — saved (in less than 10 seconds).

Mirallas across to Coleman, forward to Lennon, forward to Kone, 1st time to McCarthy, 1st time cross to Mirallas – goal (15 seconds).

Last man Jags forward to Barkley in centre circle, swivel and forward pass to Baines, cuts in, forward reverse pass with right foot to Kone, under pressure, neat forward flick to McCarthy, crosses ball – Lennon scores (18 seconds).

That was the quick, forward football Martinez used when his Wigan side tore us to ribbons at Goodison.

Harold Matthews
34 Posted 25/04/2015 at 03:42:35
Got the Swansea goal slightly wrong. Of course, Macca touched it twice.

Last man Jags forward to Barkley in centre circle - Swivel and unexpected forward pass to McCarthy - moves left - forward pass to Baines - Cuts in, reverse forward pass with right foot to Kone - Under pressure, neat flick to McCarthy who had raced forward. - crosses ball - Lennon scores (18 seconds).

That’s Everton's quick football under Martinez – all in the one sentence.

Eddie Dunn
35 Posted 25/04/2015 at 06:35:08
Today Martinez claims that Lukaku "will be one of the worldÂ’s best strikers".

I do wish he would shut his gob.

Harold Matthews
36 Posted 25/04/2015 at 06:56:03
Yes, Eddie, I think we would all like him to tone it down a bit but itÂ’s never likely to happen.
Bobby Thomas
37 Posted 25/04/2015 at 11:44:22
In his match report after the away shambles at Stoke, a journalist, I forget who, accurately described Martinez as "the high priest of hyperbole".

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