Romelu Lukaku must be held to high standards

The Belgian is a special talent and while he’s already one of the finest goalscorers in the English game, the potential is there for him to become so much more.

Matt Jones 22/02/2016 114comments  |  Jump to last

Given Evertons woeful record with centre-forwards over the last decade, it may seem a little harsh to poke holes in the accomplished make-up of Romelu Lukaku.

That's because the Belgian has been tremendous this season. Hes led the line with distinction, improved vital facets of his game and stuck the ball in the back of the net on 21 occasions. Lukaku is, without doubt, the finest striker the Toffees have had in a generation and a player the club should feel privileged to be in possession of.

Still, a lot fans are craving something extra from the striker. The man himself does too and understands the expectations which many have.

Look at Neymar. Neymar is not much older than me but he gets tonnes of criticism if he does not play well, said Lukaku recently when asked about the level of expectation which accompanies him. So if one day I aspire to be like one of them then why should I complain now? Just take it.

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And watching Lukaku in recent weeks, theres still an unshakeable sense that theres still a lot more to come from this truly unique 22-year-old.

The showing against Bournemouth in the FA Cup fifth round at the weekend was indicative of Lukakus recent efforts. Overall, he was sloppy in possession, laboured in his movement and ropey in his link-up play. Yet intertwined there were moments, like his superb surge down the left and the snappy reactions for his goal, when the Belgian set the game ablaze.

For many, including the BBC panel who chose Lukaku as their man of the match, goals champion all. His second half strike will be enough for some to validate what was an uneven display and even those who had been critical of the striker in-game will revise their opinions based on a second half tap-in.

Neither the supporters nor the manager should be apprehensive of wanting more, though, as with a few tweaks, Lukaku could feasibly become an even bigger menace.

Work-rate, whether demanded of him by Martinez or not, is obviously an area which needs to be improved. At times Lukaku is lackadaisical off the ball, unwilling to close opposition players down and often too static a target when his team-mates are in possession. I walked further with my dog this morning said Harry Redknapp on Saturday of Lukakus efforts.

There are also times when the ball doesnt come to him that the Belgian will show his frustration and switch off. Its a stark contrast to players like Luis Suarez or Sergio Aguero, who get so many of their chances from making darts, checking their run, then immediately going again, capitalising when defenders relax. Those razor sharp levels of alertness are only occasionally on show from Lukaku.

The Belgian needs to ensure he has a sustained effect on games, even when, as was the case against West Bromwich Albion in Evertons last league outing, the opposition seeks to smother him. Whether thats roughing up opponents, moving into wide positions or hustling defenders, the very best forwards are always involved.

Granted, there are certain caveats to consider. A lull like the one hes currently in was always to be expected, with only Gareth Barry and Ross Barkley playing more minutes than the Belgian this season. The youngster has had little support up top too, something which will hopefully be addressed by the acquisition of Oumar Niasse.

At his best, hes a force of nature. Lukakus performance at home to Stoke City, in which he scored two goals in a remarkable 4-3 defeat, was the best all-round centre-forward display Goodison Park has seen for a decade.

That day he was everywhere, chasing back, driving forward, on the end of crosses. It was a showing which made the prospect of the Belgian becoming the best forward on the planet, something his manager thinks he is capable of, seem feasible rather than fanciful.

But in the games when things arent going the strikers way, when the the service isnt quite there and when he isnt feeling 100 per cent, thats when he needs to do more. Lukaku will always score goals, in form or not, yet theres a significant chasm between his all-round play at its best and any standard which falls below that.

In terms of physical attributes and natural ability, he far surpasses the likes of Jamie Vardy and Harry Kane, the only two players to have scored as many goals as him in the Premier League this term. But those two are perennial pests to opposition defenders, whereas, at the moment, Lukaku is a forward who sizzles in stints.

If Lukaku wants to reach the levels he, his manager and so many others expect of him, then this is where he needs to make strides. Industry, physicality and vigilance are not inherent features either, they should be learnable for a player still in the early stages of his career.

Encouragingly theyre traits which Lukaku has showcased at times, particularly in games against the Potters, at the Hawthorns and versus Liverpool, to name a few. In those matches there was a tremendous nuisance factor about the former Chelsea man to complement his goalscoring.

Of course, were holding Lukaku to extremely high standards and it may seem finicky to point out some of these flaws in what has been a magnificent season. But as a driven, ambitious and intelligent young man, you can bet hell be just as analytical and insatiable in his quest to improve.

The Belgian is a special talent and while hes already one of the finest goalscorers in the English game, the potential is there for him to become so much more.

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Reader Comments (114)

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Christopher Dover
1 Posted 22/02/2016 at 17:11:43
When Lukaku gets criticism I believe it is because we know he is better than the way he sometimes performs.

Against Bournemouth he did not make movement to open up a space, was very slow when coming away from an attack, so would be offside if the ball was played back to him quickly.

The last few home games, I have seen him not seemingly as interested, be this due to fatigue or disgruntlement due to the way Everton play, I do not know.

So he gets criticism because we know how brilliant he can be and it's so so frustrating to see him perform well below the level he can, it sometimes looks like he doesn’t care which is probably unfair to him.

All we ask is he tries his best; you cannot ask for more.

Shane Corcoran
2 Posted 22/02/2016 at 17:14:23
Excellent article, Matt, which, despite its balanced approach, will probably still attract criticism based on statistics.

Most important is the probability that Lukaku would agree with what you say and will work to improve.

Amit Vithlani
3 Posted 22/02/2016 at 17:19:37
21 goals by February. Nuff said.
Steve Pugh
4 Posted 22/02/2016 at 17:27:09
From what has been said you would think the lad made one run and scored a tap in against Bournemouth and nothing else. Nobody mentions the lovely piece of play that laid on a chance for McCarthy who really should have done better than blazing it wide.

What about his part in the build up to Ross's goal, some great close control, beats his man and lays it off. Definitely not worthy of a mention. Defensively he cleared a couple of corners and, whilst not deserving of credit for the actual defending he was the man trying to stop the cross that resulted in Goslings header at Joel.

If you actually stop and watch, he made lots of little contributions like that all over the park throughout the game.

Chris Williams
5 Posted 22/02/2016 at 17:35:39
At the weekend, he looked pretty disgruntled several times and struggled to celebrate his goal much. I seem to recall that last season he went through a period similar to this round about the same time of the season.
Jim Hillier
6 Posted 22/02/2016 at 17:36:13
Christopher, some people on here may criticise the lad because they think he is a world beater, but don't forget the constant barrage of slagging off from some quarter last year – not worth the money, touch of a donkey etc etc.

Shane, the stats, to be fair, are pretty impressive, and since they are actually goals as well as being stats, I think it is reasonable to cite them in his defence. Steve, don't forget his disallowed goal which would have been onside if he played in Sky Blue or Red.
John Raftery
7 Posted 22/02/2016 at 17:42:38
Give him the ball earlier and more often. Too many times he is left watching us playing backwards and sideways to no useful purpose. When he makes runs to the wings he is criticised for not holding a central position and getting in the box. When he holds a central position he is criticised for not making runs. When he makes an early run and the pass is delayed he is criticised for getting caught offside. He is undoubtedly the best centre-forward we have had in 30 years but we need to play to his strengths more frequently than we do.

By the way, it was Martin Keown as co-commentator, not the BBC panel, who selected Romelu as Man of the Match. Watching the recording, David Moyes actually said he thought Barkley was Man of the Match.

Ian Jones
8 Posted 22/02/2016 at 17:50:55
Hopefully he will be in the mood against Chelsea in the cup.
Phil Walling
9 Posted 22/02/2016 at 18:04:41
I think we can comment on Lukaku without it being seen as criticism. What most of us recognise (I hope) is that he has so much more to offer than he has shown so far. And how long is it since we could say that about a striker who had scored 21 goals by mid February and so many by the age of 22?

Yes, we have a true gem in 'Our Rom' who has given much and has so much more to give.

Jeff Armstrong
10 Posted 22/02/2016 at 18:14:42
Phil (#9) spot on mate, I believe Lukaku would be world class even now if we could keep him interested, ie, League Cup finals, top four, Europe etc, it must be frustrating for him having done "his bit" to see us squandering 2-goal leads,constant defensive errors, ridiculous managerial decisions etc.

The goalscoring expectation is a bit too much as he is our only decent striker, let's hope Niasse can give him a bit of help and maybe even a rest now and again.

Duncan McDine
11 Posted 22/02/2016 at 18:22:03
Great article. I was at the game getting frustrated by him at times, but also thinking "shit, he's going to be off in the summer, where will the goals come from?"

He's made a big leap forward in his development this season, and although he's not yet anywhere near 'The Next Drogba', he could potentially get there if he keeps improving. Its just a shame that he'll be somewhere else by then.

Frank Crewe
12 Posted 22/02/2016 at 18:29:27
I just think we could get even more goals from him if he had more support. Some of his best games this season have been when he was supported by Kone and assists from Deulofeu.

Maybe playing him with Niasse would help. Give the CB's someone else to mark besides Lukaku

Dan Parker
13 Posted 22/02/2016 at 18:43:39
His best position is running at people, he’s unstoppable when doing that. The problem is our passing game, we’re often camped outside the opposition box, probing for weaknesses and passing patiently from one player to another, somewhat predictably. Lukaku becomes heavily man-marked and he’s unable to pull anything off.

My one criticism would be that I don’t think he does enough to create space for himself in these situations. He likely tends to fare better against stronger opposition because our dominance in possession isn’t as one-sided, quality opposition are pressing at our end and an Everton counter-attack provides the one-on-one sort of scenario he needs.

Denis Richardson
14 Posted 22/02/2016 at 18:52:16
I can’t really understand the criticism that Lukaku gets to be honest. The job of a striker is first and foremost to put the ball in the net. As stated above, how can you argue with 21 goals in all comps by end of February? At this rate he could score 30+ by the end of the season, which would be amazing compared to our strikers over the last 25 odd years.

Whether he could move more, defend more, be more aggressive are all valid points but all imo are minor compared to the main job of scoring goals. Lineker was a bit of a goal hanger after all but I can’t remember anyone complaining when he netted 38 times for us in 1985-86.

Also, Rom’s 22 so is still learning and can also rightly get frustrated when the midfield and defence pass the ball back and fourth for ever as we build up. He thrives on more direct play.

Criticism of players should be reserved for when they’re not carrying out their main jobs properly - like Stones and defending.
Peter McHugh
15 Posted 22/02/2016 at 18:56:29
Good article and I can understand some of the criticism although I do not think he's been fully fit as late. On the whole I think even taking away the goals that this season his all round game has been good. It is difficult and tiring being a line target man and I think he does it extremely well.

The one area I think he will improve is his of leadership but that applies to almost the whole team, perhaps understandable given young age. But he should be running lines and demanding to be played in if team mates only playing sideways and backward balls.

Phil Walling
16 Posted 22/02/2016 at 18:58:02
I have to doubt if the inclusion of a non-scoring striker like Kone adds anything to Rom's game or Everton overall effectiveness.

Certainly, Deulofeu provides a service – he seems to go from hero to zero with Martinez – and we all have high hopes for Niasse. Unfortunately, the apparent requirement for two DMs (which even 'Defensive Davey' didn't employ!) provides little room for the inclusion of a true second striker.

Peter McHugh
17 Posted 22/02/2016 at 19:01:05
Yes Phil, Moyes never played Carsley and Neville nor Heitinga and Neville in centre midfield!
Stephen Brown
18 Posted 22/02/2016 at 19:11:29
Very good article. I couldn't agree more!

However let's enjoy Rom while he's here! At least one more season I hope !

Bill Gall
19 Posted 22/02/2016 at 19:13:25
You will always get someone criticizing a player who in their eyes is not doing enough, but the way I see it is he is there to score goals and with 21 goals so far, it seems to me he is doing what he is paid to do.

What we need is someone else to take up the responsibility of scoring if he does not seem to be at his best and maybe the new forward can chip in with 12-15 goals a season to help. But it is still no good scoring if you cannot stop then going in your own goal, all though the last couple of games there is a glimmer of an improvement.

Eric Myles
20 Posted 22/02/2016 at 19:20:22
Frank (#12), I think we’d get more goals from Lukaku if he put more efforts on target.

And that goes for the rest of the team also.

Paul Andrews
21 Posted 22/02/2016 at 19:21:43
If you could transplant Costa's aggression into Romelu, you would have the best centre forward in the Premier League.

His goal return is fantastic for a young player; it could be even higher.

Victor Jones
22 Posted 22/02/2016 at 19:23:35
As everyone has noticed, he has been looking disgruntled in recent weeks. He hasn’t really celebrated his last couple of goals. No problem from me on that point. Just as long as he keeps scoring. But as a point of interest, only a few months ago, Lukaku and Kone were doing little goal celebration dances. Why now the glum face? What has happened? Is he unhappy at something? Or is he just a big moody so and so? Is he really enjoying his football? Is (dare I say it) Kone the answer to Lukaku playing well?

His stats look great. But I cannot take seriously players scoring goals, and Everton ending up losing. I don’t really care if an Everton player scores 2 or 3 goals in a match, and Everton end up losing that match. That of course is not Lukaku’s fault. But I much prefer that Lukaku's goals make the difference from Everton winning and losing. I want his goals to push Everton to the top of the league. Not have them hovering in mi-table. I want his goals to mean something. The rest of the team need to work with the big man. As does the manager. No more passengers.

Noted that (on other threads recently) that some supporters had Lukaku down as Everton's best ever striker. Not for me, that one. In the modern game, I would not have Lukaku down as our best ever striker. (And especially not if you go back into Everton's history). I have other strikers ahead of Lukaku. Just my opinion folks. But that is not to say that Lukaku will not someday be on that all time greatest Everton striker list. If he sticks around long enough. He could be a great. But not just yet. Nevertheless, thank god that we have him now. Thank god for his goals this season. I dread to see were we would be without him. Moody or not.

I heard someone call Lukaku a Moody Blue, at the weekend. As I am sure everyone knows, that is what Davie Cooper was called. Hope Lukaku does not end up the same way. Which I am sure he won’t.

And also, the Euros in the summer just might propel a few Everton players into the footballing hemisphere. Get ready for a few mega offers. I believe that that will happen. It could be an interesting summer. A very interesting summer. Our wee manager needs to be on his game.

Danny Broderick
23 Posted 22/02/2016 at 19:30:54
I don’t think it’s fair to criticise his work rate in comparison with Suarez & Aguero, or Kane & Vardy. It’s like criticising the work rate of a heavyweight boxer and comparing him to a middleweight.

Rom is a big lad – even when he is fighting fit he’s tugging a caravan! You might get short bursts out of him, but you’ll never see him running all over the place like a hare.

For me, we simply have to get the ball to him and let him do what he does best, which is putting the ball in the net. By not doing this, I can understand him getting frustrated. Jamie Vardy would be frustrated in our team, because he wouldn’t get anything to run on to. We’ve got to get the ball forward quicker...

Phil Walling
24 Posted 22/02/2016 at 19:34:54
Fair point, Peter, I had completely forgotten Neville.

(Eminently forgettable!)
Dan Parker
25 Posted 22/02/2016 at 19:38:57
It’s easy to pick a team in principal but Bobby should employ Baines as his Phillip Lahm on the left-wing with Lennon on the right-wing. Lukaku and Deulofeu up front. Would be cool to see if it works in one of the last games of the season once/if Europe’s out of reach.
Neil Steele
26 Posted 22/02/2016 at 19:48:57
Matt, that is a really excellently constructed piece first off..bravo!

With regard to Lukaku though, I think you are being very kind. I have gone from believing in a player of truly world-class potential to actually looking forward to seeing the back of him now, so annoyed am I with his dreadful attitude.

I am startled that in 2016, with the massive amount of global football coverage that we are exposed to, that people still come out with such cliched nonsense as "a strikers job is to score goals", or "he needs service from the wings". Both concepts are frankly archaic.

In modern football, your centre-forward has to offer so much more than just goals – he is the hub for the teams' entire offensive game. Without a forward offering for a ball into feet, your midfield ends up going sideways or backwards... which the manager then gets criticised for. The option, of course, being to pitch a hopeless percentage ball down the line as David Moyes enjoyed... but again, without movement from your forward, it is hopeless.

I have said many times on Twitter over the past few months that Lukaku is in danger of becoming ’the Waitrose Jordan Rhodes’ – by that I of course mean that if he isn’t scoring, then he simply isn’t contributing.

I of course realise that he is a vastly superior athlete and threat to Jordan Rhodes but the game is all about levels, and at the top 5 end of the Premier League, let alone the Champions League... I am sorry Romelu disciples, but living on the shoulder for an entire game, offering nothing for your team and playing simply to get your own goals (which your agent Mino Raiola has told you will get you your move) just doesn’t cut it.

Top players want to be top players in every game - one of the ones mentioned, Suarez, being a great example. Irrelevant of age (or size) they have mental and physical toughness, and an absolute desire to win.

Lukaku has the physical attributes, much of the technical ability but on all evidence to date he has neither the heart nor the brains to realise his phenomenal potential. I can see clearly now the traits which Jose Mourinho identified in him that led to his decision to part ways.

For a team who wants to boast about having a 20-goal-a-season striker, Rom fits the bill. For a team that wants to win football matches first and foremost, and win trophies on the back of that... no. Too many off days, too many minutes within a game when the heart and mind just isn’t there.

Goodbye and good luck, Rom. If we can’t get a better footballer than this with the £50m that I am sure a desperate fallen giant (MUFC?) will be willing to offer us this summer, then the game is in a very desperate place.

Chris Barnes
27 Posted 22/02/2016 at 19:50:49
To be fair to Moyes, he generally only played one defensive midfielder until we played the Sky Four. It was then that we enjoyed two of the exciting Neville, Heitinga or Carsley. Might explain why we always got piss poor results against them – no creativity. Barry is defensive and creative.
Darryl Ritchie
28 Posted 22/02/2016 at 19:52:42
Rom is not quick, but when given enough room, he is fast. Very fast! I agree with Danny, comparing him to Suarez or Vardy is pointless. Their method of play is completely different.

Rom's main problem is consistency. When he is up for it, he is running; when he's not, he walks and does a lot of pointing. He walks a lot.

It's frustrating to watch him game in and game out, because as good as he is, he could be so much more.

Darren Hind
29 Posted 22/02/2016 at 19:58:56
"Far surpasses" the likes of Harry Kane? ... interesting.

I bet you wouldn't find many Spurs fans who would be prepared to swap.

Kane works harder for the team, he has a better first touch, he uses every ounce of strength he has, he too knows where the goal is. Lukaku is more powerful, faster and is better in the air.

Both young lads, I honestly don't think you could get a cigarette paper between them at this stage of their careers.

Phil Walling
30 Posted 22/02/2016 at 20:08:36
Neill, so sorry you have to suffer Romelu, week-in and week-out. After some of the star turns we have had in that role over the years, he must come as a great disappointment!

Some Evertonians!

Peter Howard
31 Posted 22/02/2016 at 20:10:05
Redknapp's dog banks in Zurich so that is quite a long walk.
John Crawley
32 Posted 22/02/2016 at 20:20:41
To be fair Darren, Matt said he surpasses Kane in physical attributes and natural ability which I think he does. In terms of work rate, I think Kane definitely has the upper hand.
Paul Olsen
33 Posted 22/02/2016 at 20:24:09
Agree with OP, wrote plenty of those arguments myself over the weekend.

And I also agree Rom should not be compared to Vardy or Suarez. He should be compared to the likes of Benzema, Klose or perhaps Trezeguet.
He has all the attributes needed, but he's not there yet.

Darren Hind
34 Posted 22/02/2016 at 20:25:53
Fair enough, John.

I personally feel Kane has more natural ability and is a better finisher.

It's all about opinion...

James Marshall
36 Posted 22/02/2016 at 20:47:47
I just wrote a long blurb then realised it wasn’t anything everyone already knew.

In essence – Rom’s a fucking beast and the best striker we’ve had in years. I’d love to see us play deeper and leave him more space to run into – Lukaku in full-flow is quite a sight and long may it continue. 21 goals in February will do for me.

Martin Mason
37 Posted 22/02/2016 at 21:23:51
I disagree, Rom should be judged by the same standards as we judge other players. He doesn’t have a high price tag to justify but he is almost the complete striker.

He can’t move to take a ball in static situations like free kicks but his ability to control and advance the ball on the move is amazing and we have to play to those strengths. He is a monster of a player and a massive asset to the club even if he isn’t to the negative minority that can at times tend to drag the club and its players down.

Aidy Dews
38 Posted 22/02/2016 at 22:25:34
Darren Hind, couldn’t agree more. The only great ability/skill Rom has is his goalscoring, which isn’t a bad thing, but apart from that his other abilities aren’t great.

Yeah, sometimes he can beat men but it’s very rare. His touch is horrendous and that alone will stop him from being world class – no world class player ever has had a shit touch! He’s lazy and his movement is poor. The half-time highlight on BBC at the weekend of his lack of movement wasn’t just a one-off thing, he’s like that in every game!

Then there’s the height and physique. He’s 6’-3" and about 14 stone, all toned and muscly, yet he looks weak up against centre-backs. He gets dispossessed of the ball way too easily for me and doesn’t always want to get involved in the physical side of the game. And how many headers or flick-ons does he win? Not many.

I know I’m gonna get slated for this post cos some will think I’m talking absolute wham and don’t have an argument due to his record, but if you can see beyond the goals, you’ll see that he’s not really that great. Don’t get me wrong, he’s decent, but I just don’t see this "world class" talent/potential others seem to see in him. The only thing world class about him is his knack of scoring and for me that does blind people from his obvious flaws. If you took away his goals record, he’d be as bad a player as Anichebe imo!

As for Kane, he’s come on in leaps and bounds in past two or three years and he seems to have a bit of everything about him: good touch, holds the ball up well and brings others into play, got good movement, is an out-ball, works hard, defends from the front, decent in the air, and he scores goals!

If I had the choice of Kane or Lukaku right now to spearhead my attack at Everton, my preference would be Kane. I feel he’s got more to his game as well as goals and we would be better off with a more mobile, hard-working forward that would score goals but also link the play and be an out-ball. Personally I think he’d round off our play much better due to his movement and hold-up play. With Rom he doesn’t move enough or drop in to take the ball and link the play, or move so we can play into him or give it over the top, which is why our play a lot of the time goes from side to side to side, and back! Or if we do play into him, he either gets shrugged off the ball too easily, doesn’t want to challenge the centre-back or his touch is that bad it bounces off of him and our play breaks down.

He’s not a bad player but he’ll never be a great for me.

Ian Riley
39 Posted 22/02/2016 at 23:06:49
Interesting posts. Lukaku has scored 21 goals and could have had another 10 at least. At times he has been unplayable but these times are rare. If he is not in the mood, we have ten men!

His work rate is slowly getting better and physical strength has improved. I actually think at times the manager’s possession football doesn't help him. Eighty passes to nowhere, slow attacking approach must frustrate the hell out of him. If we attacked with pace, yes long ball sometimes, we may see a different player.

At times he comes looking for the ball because he is isolated and bored of waiting for the ball. He is not a worker. Meaning, running the line is not his game. Everton have had those strikers, Bent for example, but ten goals a season is the limit. Lukaku is a natural finisher and will get better. He is in the top ten strikers in the world. For his age and Premier League goalscoring tally already equals, enjoy while we can!!!

Anthony Dwyer
40 Posted 23/02/2016 at 00:24:52
When I read anything about Rom, its as though he is not allowed a single bad game or heavy touch.

Watch any striker, or any player in the world and you will see that they all struggle in games.

Considering how mediocre our attacking players have been over the past two decades I can't believe how critical we are.

Kieran Fitzgerald
41 Posted 23/02/2016 at 07:33:07
If Lukaku made a proper effort every game, he could easily have 30 goals this season already. He could also have put himself properly in the shop window for the big move his agent apparently wants for him.

The thing is though, you could put some of his lack of effort, not all but some, down to frustration. There are games when he gets zero service. True, he doesn’t always show for the ball, but there are days when you could have Holy God himself up front for us and he wouldn’t get a sniff of a chance.

Then again, you have to make your own chances sometimes as a striker and Lukaku needs to figure that out in our team. He’s not always going to have Deulofeu whipping in perfect crosses for him.

Jim Hourigan
42 Posted 23/02/2016 at 07:38:34
Why do forwards sell for ridiculous amounts of money, not just now but throughout football with the money increasing in line with general fees? It's because it's the hardest position to play on the field. Stopping goals, spoiling and dribbling 40 yards from goal is far easier than consistently putting the ball in the net, ask anyone who has played football, particularly up front at a decent standard.

To those who criticise Lukaku, spend 20 mins and watch him and not the ball, see how many runs he makes across the line while we play keep ball in defence, see how many times he could be played in and is not, and then all of a sudden a ball is launched when someone is under pressure and he is expected to create something out of nothing.

Ask yourself why was Suarez so effective at Liverpool? Mainly because he knew that he would be fed the ball immediately Gerrard looked up into the space he would then attack. Compare that to our possession-led approach that allows defenders to get set, to pull the midfield back to stop the channels being attacked and the doubling up against wide men.

Suarez, Kane and Vardy would struggle in our team because of the tactics, not their ability. Imagine how many more goals Lukaku would score if he was consistently allowed the opportunity to run at defenders and into the space behind them rather than with his back to goal.

Yes, he could improve, can’t we all, but I for one think he is the best centre-forward since Sharpy in his heyday. I remember big Bob and all his goals, but my god he was a lazy sod when the ball wasn’t crossed in to him.

Good forwards will always be criticised for their ’workmate’ but the reality is they are on the pitch to put the ball in the net, not run their arses off out wide, or drop deep to link up play, or close down defenders – that’s the Moyes view of forwards – and how many did he destroy!!!

Brent Stephens
43 Posted 23/02/2016 at 08:28:03
Work rate isn't the main thing for me but does anybody know the stats for Rom, over the last 2 seasons, in terms of distance covered per game, compared to our other players, or even to strikers at other clubs?
Les Martin
44 Posted 23/02/2016 at 08:57:42
A great goalscorer who is a work in progress, being under utilised by Everton despite his goal tally this season.

He needs close support and the through-ball but our tippy-tappy doesn't sit well with him. You can see his frustration which will mean he may well move on in the summer if there is no trophy or European football.

Paul Conway
45 Posted 23/02/2016 at 09:49:43
Very often, Lukaku is relying on under-performers, players who get substituted, substitutes who come on, only to deceive. We don't have strength on the bench. Our bench is more of an aid than a threat.

A lot of big teams can see Lukaku slotting in nicely to their set-up and being prolific, with no shortage of talent to assist this veritable goal machine! This is destined to happen unless the manager can upgrade to a higher level. otherwise we will lose our prized asset, along with Barkley and others!

John Raftery
46 Posted 23/02/2016 at 11:37:29
Some ridiculous criticism on this thread of our main man who is operating in a team which is still developing. Kane has been playing in a better team which has used his strengths. On the rare occasions when Spurs have struggled this season, so has Kane. If people think we have had a better striker in the past 25 years, I would like to know who they think that player was.

Romelu has revealed his frustration about the team’s league position in recent interviews and said it is time they started delivering on their promises. The Stoke match at home was one example of a game in which he put us in a winning position, was seen chasing back to block off attackers but then could only watch as our porous back line conceded two goals in the last seven minutes of normal time plus four minutes added on. When this season is analysed and people look for where our problems lie, Romelu’s performances will be among the least of our concerns.

Graham Mockford
47 Posted 23/02/2016 at 12:00:51
Brent (#43),

Well, he has made his way from in and around the opponents penalty area back to his own half 41 times to line up and watch the opponents kick off again.

I’m pretty happy with that.

Harold Matthews
48 Posted 23/02/2016 at 12:23:38
The lad has shown great improvement and has a wonderful knack of putting the ball into the net. Sometimes looks half asleep and disinterested but if there's a chance of a goal. he springs to life and is onto the ball like a praying mantis, hence his surging sprint down the wing and his lightning quick reaction for the 2nd goal. A genuine prospect who is still 3rd or 4th choice for Belgium despite being more prolific than his rivals.

I will not be delighted when he departs in the summer but it certainly won't worry me. There are 10 teams above us in the League and none of them have Lukaku. In fact, none of them have Lukaku, Barkley or Stones. What they do have is a top class keeper and 10 outfield players of good spirit and ability who perform with energy, aggression and intelligence all over the pitch.

For peace of mind I have to believe we are heading in that direction. Despite my urgings after the West Brom substitutions, Mr Martinez shows no signs of leaving so I will retain my interest in his project. A careful low cost squad metamorphosis from which will emerge a side to challenge the best.

Lukaku was always a short time investment. The lad has had his mind on bigger things ever since he joined the club and the early signing of Niasse would suggest that his bags are already packed. A club like Everton don't shell out £13.5mil for someone to sit on the bench.

As for Lukaku's shortcomings. Well, we know he's wrapped up in himself but we don't get many Everton strikers who top the scoring charts so I'm not about to knock him.

Bobby Thomas
49 Posted 23/02/2016 at 12:51:36
Rom has been cruising lately, no doubt about that. He knows he’s nailed on to play, no alternative until recently, league season going nowhere, he also was playing with a niggle that took a bit off him.

In his defence we do not play to get the best out of him. Normally at home, and on the weekend, we defend very high and compress the play into the oppositions half where we attempt to dominate the ball and break teams down. Lukaku therefore spend virtually the entire time with his back to goal as we ponderously play the ball square and back.

When we play in this fashion, there are virtually no early balls, ever. I agree that he could make more runs but if we are consistently setting up in a style that doesn’t suit him, and in my opinion the players we have, then it can hardly be motivational.

The best moments for him this season have come when we have delivered early, either from Deulofeu or a piece of play such as Barry's (I think it was) early ball against Stoke at home. Rom’s frame means that he isn’t going to be making Suarez/Kane type diagonal runs in behind centre backs and in between them and the centre halves as he isn’t really built for that, he’s a different kind of player.

On Kane, I think he’s top notch. He always hits the target, his link and back-to-goal play is brilliant and he makes great runs. He isn’t genuinely quick, but he can buy a yard and that’s normally all he needs. He’s also very good on the turn, works really hard and is mentally very, very strong.

He is almost a silkier version of Shearer in terms of an all round game, goals and hitting the target, but without that power and brute force, however that’s how the game is going. He’s also never injured. He should be first choice to play up front play for England, beyond doubt.

Greg Lambden
50 Posted 23/02/2016 at 12:52:34
Great potential but I'm not convinced he has he drive to become the player he should.

- Too lazy (especially in a lone striker role).
- Poor first touch (especially in a lone striker role).
- Doesn't finish enough chances.

If there are clubs interested at the reported £50-60m mark, I wouldn't hesitate to cash in personally.

Tony J Williams
51 Posted 23/02/2016 at 13:11:14
I don't think he has fully recovered from the injury at City.

He is a beast but he can look disinterested at times and the fans will always pick up on that, no matter how good you are.

Paul Mackie
52 Posted 23/02/2016 at 13:31:51
I was absolutely ecstatic when we signed him up permanently and in my opinion this is his best season with us yet. He's improved every aspect of his game from last season and I've no doubt he's going to be even better next season (hopefully still in a blue shirt...)

As for people doubting his commitment or will to win, I don't think that's the case at all. If there's so much as a sniff of goal then he's interested. The game where he got injured this season (my memory s shocking) is a great example. He went down injured then as soon as an attack was on he got up, scored a goal and then immediately hobbled off. That is not the behaviour of someone who is lazy and/or doesn't give a toss about winning. I'd agree that he could do more to create his own chances and at times is too static, but he's an intelligent lad. He'll know that this is a weakness and is probably working on it.

Sam Hoare
53 Posted 23/02/2016 at 13:56:11
I had real doubts about Romelu at the start of this season but he has dispelled them quite a lot over the last few months. His touch has improved, his finishing has been very sharp for the most part and his link-up play has been better too.

Of course he still has bad touches, passages, games but so do 99% of professional strikers. He’s not Messi, Suarez or Aguero yet but he’s doing very well indeed for a 22-year-old.

He’s never going to have the work rate of Vardy with his frame and size but as long as he is scoring regularly, linking play well and leaving the pitch covered in perspiration, that's okay by me. He has been mostly doing these things this season and is surely the best striker we've had for a long time.

I say enjoy it while it lasts as we’ll get one more season out of him at best, I reckon.

Phil Smith
54 Posted 23/02/2016 at 14:01:39
Bill Gall – isn’t Ross doing that? How many has he got so far this season? 12 already, no? When was the last time we had 2 people scoring more than 10 in February?
Ian Riley
55 Posted 23/02/2016 at 14:34:27
Greg (50), the fee we will receive will be between £50-60million. His age and potential will sell that alone. Strikers are at a premium at present. The world’s best strikers are at Champions League clubs and earning top dollar. At Everton, Lukaku has improved as a player.

In his short career so far, his goals for us has put us into the Europa League (loan), and helped West Bromwich Albion stay in the Premier League (loan). Everton need to keep him at whatever cost. A new contract at £100k a week, so be it! Selling him would help nobody at Everton. Clubs with strikers that score 20 plus goals a season are successful.

Every player has a price and ambition. He will only move if those two are met. My personal view is Lukaku should develop further at Everton for two more years. Then move to a Champions League club and be the Number One choice!

Denis Richardson
56 Posted 23/02/2016 at 15:17:39
And there I was thinking I was a miserable git... we have a 22-year-old striker with 21 goals so far up to February but that’s not good enough, apparently. This thread is comedy.

Some people saying the job of a striker in the ’modern’ game is no longer mainly to score goals. Apparently they are now supposed to be the ’hub of the teams entire offensive game’. Simply there to score goals is now considered an archaic way to look at their job. Apparently.

Well I guess I turned 40 not too long ago so maybe I’ve only got this archaic way of looking at things. There I was thinking a defenders job is to, erm defend... and a striker's job is to score goals or erm... strike the opposition. As far as the striker is concerned, I was brought up to play to their strengths and not make them the ’hub of the teams entire offensive game’.....then again what do I know.

I see out Rom is near the top of the scorers’ table... must be really shit then.

Nick Entwistle
57 Posted 23/02/2016 at 15:18:52
Great for us, but is he a bit of a Bony who will struggle playing for teams who have to break down a parked bus every game? As he's with us, that won't matter at all... so, a redundant point!
Andrew Ellams
59 Posted 23/02/2016 at 15:31:01
Crazy, isn’t it Denis. This lad is probably the best striker in the world right now that Everton could attract. What do people want? Marcus Bent always worked hard, would somebody like that be a better option?
Oliver Molloy
60 Posted 23/02/2016 at 15:34:19
When you have a guy that can score 15+ goals a season, you should do everything to hold on to him. At only 22 years of age, there is no doubt that Lukaku will improve providing he remains serious injury free.

Yes, he does look lazy at times, his first touch is not brilliant and his hold-up play can get better but, saying all that, what a player we would have if he can sort some stuff out.

Regards the 'lazy' tag because of his size and physique, he is not able to run around like a Suarez does.

I hope he stays; unfortunately, as I have said all along, I think he will leave us come the end of this season if his agent gets his way.

Shane Corcoran
61 Posted 23/02/2016 at 15:35:23
Denis, I think that's a slightly simple way of looking at things.

Hypothetically, for example, if all of Lukaku's goals had been penalties would you have been happy?

It's similar to the Robles argument. If a keeper doesn't touch the ball in ten games due to his team's dominance then should we laud him due to the fact that he's kept clean sheets.

I don't think anyone has come even close to saying Rom is really shit as you've joked. I think the opening piece is balanced as are most of the comments. Shouldn't we be able to point out the negatives as well as the positives in each player while at the same time acknowledging that the player is still young, may be suffering with injuries or whatever mitigating factors may be available? Surely this is the point of ToffeeWeb.

Brent Stephens
62 Posted 23/02/2016 at 16:01:24
Got to laugh when people say Rom has this and that weakness and if we’re offered £50-60 million (sic), we should jump at it. So if he’s got all these weaknesses, is any other club really going to offer that much? Are they that dense? Okay, the RS occasionally.
Steve Brown
63 Posted 23/02/2016 at 16:07:17
I might have this wrong, but Rom and Harry Kane made their first-team debuts roughly at the same time in 2009. Since then, Rom has scored just about twice as many career goals.

Sure Rom may have played in more games but that's simply because he is a better player with more long-term potential. And if he keeps developing he will be a £50m player.

Michael Kenrick
64 Posted 23/02/2016 at 16:28:16

When you’re at the game, watching him play, and knowing what he’s capable of, don’t you feel perhaps a twinge of frustration when a ball is played directly to his feet, and bounces off at some weird angle, usually to an opponent?

Knowing the perfect service he thrives upon, don’t you get even a little bit exasperated when the umpteenth tempting cross is whipped in and he’s miles away, hanging back, looking forlorn?

Knowing the turn of speed and power he can display, what about when we’re mounting an attack and instead of running at the defence in the centre, to create space for a ball in, he’s out near the touchline, doing triangle passes?

Nobody’s saying he’s shit, but surely you would agree he could be doing a lot more as our main striker. I don’t find it comedy, I think it’s a tremendous waste of talent. If he was firing on all cylinders, we would unstoppable.

Chris Gould
65 Posted 23/02/2016 at 16:47:15
There’s no doubting he has all the attributes to become top class, but he doesn’t work hard enough. He doesn’t give everything to the cause.
When he burst passed that Bournemouth defender on Saturday I was stunned. I’ve never seen him run so fast, certainly not over such a distance. Why is that?

Suarez and Vardy are two of the hardest working forwards I’ve seen in the Premier League. 75% of their effort and workrate and I’d be happy.

Chris Gould
66 Posted 23/02/2016 at 16:54:27
I’d also be intrigued to know how many high intensity sprints your average 16-stone rugby player puts in during a match.

I thinks his perceived laziness is more to do with attitude and application than his size.

Michael Polley
67 Posted 23/02/2016 at 17:15:00
He has got a lot more to offer. I sometimes think he looks frustrated because of the lack of support. He needs to track back and look for the ball more often. I think he expects the ball to go straight to his feet all the time which is not going to happen.

In saying that, he scores goals, and I hope we retain him for next season. He can only get better.

Jay Harris
68 Posted 23/02/2016 at 17:41:48
I agree to a large extent with Sam Hoare. I would and have certainly criticised his poor first touch (which has improved somewhat this season) and his heading ability which IMO is very poor for such a big player.

Having said that, he does have a winning mentality and an eye for goal.

I think he is certainly suited to Everton and would not score as many in another club which is not so adventurous but I think he is always looking to better himself and he is not going to get that under this manager.

James Stewart
69 Posted 23/02/2016 at 17:47:54
Considering we are a team that never crosses the ball without 50 sideways passes first I’d say Lukaku is doing exceptionally well to have hit 21 goals by February. We still don’t play to his strengths and I’m not surprised he doesn’t run himself into the ground every match, the early ball simply never comes.

Catch-22 but if we picked him out more and actually put a few crosses in instead of pussyfooting around back and sideways 90% of the time he would have 40 goals.

Eivind Nyhus
70 Posted 23/02/2016 at 17:58:20
I agree with some of the criticism, but I do not agree with the ways it at times is delivered. Great article!
Denis Richardson
71 Posted 23/02/2016 at 18:12:27
Shane 61 – there is no hypothetical. Fact is most of his goals have not been penalties, so not sure what that statement is about tbh.

Michael 64 – of course I get frustrated when he he miscontrols or could have made a better run but fact is he’s only 22 and will get better. The so called ’weaknesses’ people have pointed out are imo minor as long as he keeps finding the net – which is his main job after all, despite the ’hub of offensive whatever’ statement.

Could he be better? Yes. Will he get better? Undoubtedly (he’s scored more senior goals than Drogba at the same age). We should just be glad that he’s in blue (for now) and scoring. Had this not been the case we’d be talking about the R word.

Sorry but simply put, he’s joint second in the league scoring table (we lie 11th – first and other joint second scorers happen to play for the teams in 1st and 2nd!), he’s 22 years old and people are taking the time to point out his weaknesses. Man Utd supposedly value him at £65m!

I just find it comedy. No wonder TW is considered negative.

Neil Steele
72 Posted 23/02/2016 at 21:19:04
Denis, I think your last comment is worse than your first, and that was pretty bad! You are having a pop at my initial comment, yet displaying the exact archaic/ignorant outlook that I refer to. You simply can't comprehend another way of playing beyond paint-by-numbers basics, can you? Without his goals the 'R' word..really? How do you know whoever would have played instead of him wouldn't have scored only half as many, but held the ball twice as well, and thus spared us conceding half as many as we have because we can't hold the ball up top?

You need to watch more football mate and come into 2016. All that 'defenders job is to defend', 'strikers are there to score goals' stuff went out with the Romans.

It is a TEAM game, and it is ironic that someone mentioned Marcus Bent, as if to criticise him, when he led the line quite brilliantly and assisted his TEAM to achieve 4th place, in spite of his own finishing inadequacies.

Quite proves my point, really!

Graham Mockford
73 Posted 23/02/2016 at 22:28:52

You are so in touch with modern football, maybe that’s the answer to our problems – a lone striker who huffs and puffs and manages a scoring rate of 1 goal every 8 games. Why the fuck would we want one that scores 1 in 2?

I mean, it’s 2016 after all. You don’t need your strikers scoring goals. What are Barca up to? Their strikers have only managed 95 between them this season. They really need to watch a bit of football and get with the programme. Have you seen Neymar’s tackling stats, fucking disgraceful. Doesn’t he realise it’s a TEAM game?

Brent Stephens
74 Posted 23/02/2016 at 22:43:05
"All that ’defenders job is to defend’, ’strikers are there to score goals’ stuff went out with the Romans."

We’d do a lot better if Roberto did tell our lads "Your job is to defend."

Denis Richardson
75 Posted 23/02/2016 at 22:44:39
Neil 72, you’re having a laugh aren’t you? If Rom had been out for much of this season (eg injury) we’d have had Kone or Naismith leading the line! I’m no expert but I’m pretty sure neither of those two would have gotten close to 21 goals so far.

Re the R-word, the table says we’ve scored 46 league goals so far this season. Lukaku has scored 16 of those and gotten another 5 assists so he’s had a hand in almost half the goals we’ve scored. I’m guessing had he not been available we’d be lower than 11th right now.

Anyway we can agree to disagree. Call me old fashioned but I’m happy with my striker scoring goals and doing fuck-all else.

Ian Riley
77 Posted 23/02/2016 at 23:06:16
What point Neil (72)? Lukaku and Bent are two physically different players. Moyes expected his strikers to work the line and defend from the front. Our defensive record under Moyes showed his priorities. Bent was a worker who took the pressure off the midfield. The team did not have to carry him in any games. Moyes wouldn’t have it.

Moyes was dictated by finances but Bent showed the fight and spirit. When our finances improved, Moyes bought Yakubu: 20 goals a season, natural finisher, but hardly a worker.

Bent's workrate and ability will never be questioned. Sadly goals dictate your history as a striker. Our top four place showed the quality we had in the Champions League qualifiers. Don’t worry, Lukaku will be off to fulfill his ambitions and good luck to him.

Shane Corcoran
79 Posted 24/02/2016 at 10:28:08
Denis (#71), my hypothetical example was an extreme to suggest that Lukaku’s goal-scoring stats aren’t the be-all and end-all but you’re fairly firm in your view so I’ll leave it at that.
Neil Steele
80 Posted 24/02/2016 at 15:49:33
Graham (#73), Denis (#75), and Ian (#77) – my point is very simple and evidenced, yet the 3 of you continue to miss it! The point (to make it VERY clear for you) is that, in the modern game, goals ALONE are not everything. Quoting Messi, Neymar and Suarez is ludicrous. I say again, goals ALONE are not everything.

Are you suggesting, Graham, that these three are not in fact world class footballers, in no way comparable to Romelu Lukaku!? Their touch, quality, effort, movement... they are all 3 on a completely different planet to Romelu Lukaku as footballers.

The point about Marcus Bent is very clear, it evidences that goals ALONE are not everything in a striker. You cannot finish 4th in the Premier League with a lone forward who cannot lead the line. Clearly, what Bent lacked in goals, he was able to contribute in other ways. To suggest that this was simply ’effort’ is naive at best – he was a good footballer with intelligent movement and one who played for his team.

Again, just to be clear, I am not suggesting that he is ’better’ than Romelu Lukaku, as clearly the entire league has moved on since then, but it does clearly evidence the point that when assessing how a player functions and helps a team, goals ALONE are not an adequate benchmark. James Beattie (Bent’s replacement) scored more goals, but IMO was a far inferior footballer.

Ian, you make reference to Yakubu; two points on that man: 1. Far better technical footballer than Lukaku, touch, passing etc... Still, the point stands about it being a team game! All our frustrations with Rom essentially stem from the same thing – we can see that he is capable of so much more.

2. If he can score these goals with such ease, even with his bad touch and lack of movement/link play, then imagine what our TEAM could achieve if he played more for it, and his teammates, than just his own goals!?

Ged Simpson
81 Posted 24/02/2016 at 16:05:07
What's your point Neil ?
Paul Andrews
82 Posted 24/02/2016 at 16:08:22
Gary Lineker scored 40 plus goals in the season between us winning the league in 85 and 87.

More than one Blue said to me it was Lineker's fault we didn’t win the league.

Brent Stephens
83 Posted 24/02/2016 at 16:10:25
Rom's touch is far better this season than in previous seasons.
Dave Abrahams
84 Posted 24/02/2016 at 16:33:24
Paul (82) not sure if it was Lineker’s fault that we didn’t win anything in the season he played for us, but we did change our style of play to suit his speed. We played a lot more long balls that season, but we finished a close second in the league and we were runners up in the FA Cup, when it meant something.

In my opinion, Gary wasn’t a great footballer but he had tremendous speed which he used to great effect, and he did score plenty of goals throughout his career.

Graham Mockford
85 Posted 24/02/2016 at 16:34:52
Neill #80

Firstly you appear to have a case of random CAPS LOCK. It's a worrying condition that means that when reading you prose RANDOM words are capitalised for no REASON whatsoever.

I don't think I ever suggested that you would compare Rom with three world class strikers. I was sort of pointing out that the best team in the world have three strikers that er.... score lots of goals. Lukaku has a very good goal scoring record which means many teams will be interested in looking to secure his services and it would undoubtedly cost them upwards of £40m.

Maybe my memory is playing tricks but I don't remember a bid of £40m for Marcus Bent. It could of just been before Charlton paid us £2m for him though.

You don't rate Rom, that's your perogative, I personally think he has weaknesses in his game but at 22 he will continue to improve and whatever your views on 'modern footballers' any striker scoring at the rate he does will always be at a premium.

Shane Corcoran
86 Posted 24/02/2016 at 16:51:01
Talking of Suarez and goals, for all the goals he's scoring, he missed some amount of chances last night and again at the weekend.

Oh and he's a cheating, diving, biting racist too lest we forget.

John Daley
87 Posted 24/02/2016 at 16:57:39
"The point about Marcus Bent is very clear, it evidences that goals ALONE are not everything in a striker."

So, why was he binned off at the first opportunity in favour of someone with a better goalscoring record? The fact that player was James Beattie and was a huge flop in front of goal is neither here or there. He was perceived as a having the potential to provide a more regular source of goals and was consequently viewed as an upgrade on Marcus Bent on that basis alone.

If Marcus ’man of many attributes’ Bent was so integral to the functioning of that particular Everton team and led the line so ’brilliantly’, why was his the one position the manager thought necessary to improve upon at the midway point of the season? Nothing to do with the fact any manager hoping to achieve success knows they need a striker who scores goals and preferably plenty of them?

The fact Marcus Bent happened to be our only striking option in the first half of the season we scraped fourth isn’t real evidence of anything, apart from the paucity of our options at the time and the fact the Rooney money arrived too late in the summer to spend.

Shane Corcoran
88 Posted 24/02/2016 at 17:02:21
John, you're a very clever fella. I've read your posts so I'm sure of it.

All Neil said was that goals weren't the ONLY (caps intentional and not random) thing to measure strikers by.

It might be the most important factor and you might forgive his work-rate and other areas if he is an outstanding scorer. I'm amazed at how many are picking at this simple point.

Paul Andrews
89 Posted 24/02/2016 at 17:05:44
We did change our style of play, Dave.

I can see the point that we didn’t share the goals around in the previous season when we won the league I think our top goalscorer was around 15. But I think a centre-forward who scores 40 goals in a season has done his bit.

John Daley
90 Posted 24/02/2016 at 17:13:23
Paul (82),

If we'd kept hold of Lineker back then we might have had more than just the one league title to point to since selling him. Rather than pointing to his presence as being the difference between success in 85 & 87 and near success in 86, I think the real reason had to do with the extended abscence of Southall (who was the worlds best at that time and hailed by his manager and teammates as being worth a half decent number of points by his damn self).

It's long been suggested that Lineker was allowed to leave because Howard had it on good authority the Barca job was going to be his that summer. I kind of think that sounds more believable than HK thinking we'd rather do without the most wanted striker in the game who had just hit 40 goals and another 6 in the World Cup. Still, at least we had permy Paul Whatshisface and Wayne Clarke I suppose.

Paul Andrews
91 Posted 24/02/2016 at 17:21:36

I couldn't agree more with you.

John Daley
92 Posted 24/02/2016 at 17:36:26

I did catch the drift and I don’t outright disagree with the main point Neil is making, but I do think Marcus Bent is a pretty poor example to back it up and is probably muddying the water for some.

Yes, if a striker can bring more than just goals to the party, then great. However, if he’s not bringing any – or hardly any – then it’s not going to take too long for a manager to turn elsewhere. Doesn’t really matter what his other attributes are, especially if he’s the only man up there, as Bent was.

Heskey, Sheringham (even Beardsley for England) worked in tandem with an out-and-out goalscorer, so the fact their strike rate was secondary to their other attributes (and somewhat lacking in comparison to their partners) could be overlooked.

Shane Corcoran
93 Posted 24/02/2016 at 17:38:44
John, when you say "any, or hardly any" do you mean goals?

Agreed, and maybe Bent was a bad example. Anyway, we're on the same page which makes me happy.

Ray Roche
94 Posted 24/02/2016 at 17:59:15
John Daley (#90),

We may have had "Paul Whatshisface and Wayne Clarke" but they played fewer games combined than our preferred striker Graham Sharp and only managed 8 goals between them. Heath, Sheedy and Steven all managed double figures that season and Sharpe only 5. Sharpe scored more in Lineker’s season and, I think, would have been a better player with Lineker long term.

But I also think that, had we kept hold of Lineker, we’d have still won the League that season after he’d gone and we’d have been more successful in the following seasons.

Ste Traverse
95 Posted 24/02/2016 at 18:22:22
I see the myth we ’changed’ our style to suit Lineker is being spouted again.

The previous season, in 1984-85, we played direct as and when required. For anyone to suggest we played total on-the-carpet football in every game that season with Sharp and Gray up front then changed it to suit Lineker the following season is quite frankly, laughable.

To say it was all Lineker’s fault we failed win the title in 1985-86 is nonsense. Yes, he did miss some chances in that infamous defeat at Oxford, but losing Southall for the run in, plus injuries to the likes of Mountfield and Reid causing them to miss large parts of that season and Liverpool going on that run were they won something like 11 games out of 12 after we beat them at Anfield is what, in my opinion, cost us the title.

Sharp and Lineker got a massive 64 goals just between themselves in their one season together, and both were only 25 years old, they would have got better and better as a partnership, instead, we flogged Lineker for a lot less than the shite got for Ian Rush, who couldn’t even get to a World Cup, let alone finish leading scorer in one.

It, overall, still remains a strange sale for me.

Ray Roche
96 Posted 24/02/2016 at 18:26:50
Good post, Ste; we were then, and always have been a selling club. Oh, apart from last year when we kept hold of Stones....
John Daley
97 Posted 24/02/2016 at 18:38:17
Yes Ray, I know Paul Wilkinson (his name has just popped into my head, when for the life of me I couldn't remember it earlier) and Clarke were pure supporting cast. I was just being flippant.

Adrian Heath was the biggest beneficiary of Lineker leaving as I recall. A fact my old queen was made up about as she used to have a bit of 'a thing' for 'little Adrian'. In fact, for some strange reason, her list of favourite players has always been topped by a tiny tot ever since. 'Little Cottee', 'little Limpar', 'little Leighton', 'little Pienaar'. It seems any shortarse is sound in her book. Except Ronnie Corbett. She thought he was a right twat.

Ian Riley
98 Posted 24/02/2016 at 18:42:12
Neil (#80) great points. Bent did his job, well 10 goals as a striker. What he lacked in goals, he did in running around. Moyes had no other options that season up front. That season was unique, we scored few goals but kept many clean sheets. How I would swap that to this season!

Yakubu joined Everton at 25 years old and yes technically better than Lukaku aged 22. Moyes wanted goals because we kept a defensive mindset. Fewer chances with a natural goalscorer in Yakubu.

Are you actually annoyed with Lukaku and his work rate or the manager’s approach? Don’t worry, Lukaku will be primed at 25 for another club. if he is not still with us by then. Let’s hope there’s another hard worker with 10 goals in them.

Ray Roche
99 Posted 24/02/2016 at 18:43:07
John, I wasn't having a pop at you, more like I was agreeing with your post. When you say your "queen" has a thing for small, no, better not go there.
Ste Traverse
100 Posted 24/02/2016 at 18:52:54
Couldn’t agree more Ray (#94).

I’ve always believed we wouldn’t have fallen away the way we did had we not sold Lineker and kept him with Sharp. We’d have continued to be a major force.

Lineker’s long-term replacement was Tony ’flat track bully’ Cottee... enough said.

Dave Abrahams
101 Posted 24/02/2016 at 18:56:41
Ste (95) you can laugh as much as you want but Everton played a lot more long balls that season, the reason was to use Lineker's speed.

There was one match against Man City when he scored two, possibly three and they all came from balls over the top for Gary to run onto.

The rest of your post is bang on, regarding how we lost the league, and Liverpool won most of their matches after we beat them at Anfield. The main reason they won all them games was Dagleish, he never played in the Derby game, out of choice, but played in every game after that.

Ste Traverse
102 Posted 24/02/2016 at 19:12:38

We’ll have to agree to disagree over the long balls we played in 1985-86 as I didn’t see a great deal of difference to the previous season when we played with TWO target men, but the link I’ve posted is, I’m sure, the Man City game you are talking about (on one of the coldest nights ever at Goodison) and I can’t see too many of Lineker’s hat-trick coming from punts up the park.

Steve Carse
103 Posted 24/02/2016 at 19:17:49
On the Ste and Dave debate, I quote from HK's autobiography --

'Gary changed our style of play. We became more direct. We would ping a long ball forward knowing he could outrun just about any defender.'

Game, set and match to Dave I think.

Ste Traverse
104 Posted 24/02/2016 at 19:29:23
Don't you think I've see those comments many many times before Steve? Howard first said them years and years before his Autobiography.

Even if they were spoken by HK, I simply don't agree with them. We played some direct football with and without Lineker.

John Daley
105 Posted 24/02/2016 at 19:32:38
"When you say your "queen" has a thing for small, no, better not go there."

No shit we shouldn't, Ray. Especially as by "old queen" I meant my mother.

Dave Abrahams
106 Posted 24/02/2016 at 19:34:26
Ste (104) fair enough, you didn’t see much difference from the season before Lineker came and the season he played, well I’ll concede there might not have been a vast difference but we played much more direct football, enough to mark the style of play in the two seasons.
Paul Andrews
107 Posted 24/02/2016 at 19:46:02
We knocked it long into Sharpie and Andy, to either head down or to hold up.

We played it over the top for Lineker. We played it long far more when Lineker was in the team.

Paul Ellam
108 Posted 24/02/2016 at 20:03:27
Lukaku could do better with certain parts of his game but I for one am happy enough with what he does for the team. He scores plenty of goals and that is pleasing, especially when we have had 20-odd years of cack strikers! (Yakubu 1 season excused).

I fear he will be greatly missed once he moves on.

Neil Steele
109 Posted 24/02/2016 at 20:39:36
Good debate this one, one of the best really... this guy is a very emotive subject I think!

I think much of it comes down to how people view the game, and their ideals – this also manifests in the wildly varying opinions of the manager too.

I am ’old school’, I judge with the eye, not statistics, and when I watch a game, I kick every ball. My ideal (which fits with certain elements of our manager’s approach – not all), is that possession is king. I have always loved watching sides who dominate possession and play ’chess’ football, essentially defending by having the ball rather than traditional defending. If no progressive forward pass is on, I am happy to retain possession and go sideways or backwards, then build again rather than pitch a percentage ball down the channel, or toss a hopeful cross in.

When I watch the games, I think we lose possession so many times because of this guy and it does my head in. An element of it is his poor first touch, but what annoys me most is the positions he takes up. He is looking to go in behind what feels like 95% of the time, so he is always ’wrong’ side of the defender in terms of availability for a pass into feet. I feel this really hangs his teammates out to dry on so many occasions. When we are looking for an ’out’, or a wall pass, or just some kind of pressure release... he isn’t there.

On that basis, I attribute a number of goals ’against’ us, hypothetically, because of these facets of his game. It’s easy to look at a piece of paper with a number on and conclude "Wow... this guy is a dope goalscorer", but I am looking at games, situations within games that split draws from victories, or defeats potentially, and he lets me down too often.

The Marcus Bent example I stated was simply to evidence the effectiveness of a striker who DOESN’T score goals (intentional!)... not to say he is a better player, but simply to ’prove’ that a team doesn’t necessarily rely upon a forward goals to achieve ’success’ – that is all.

Ultimately, Romelu is being judged by his relative status, and that of a supposedly ’top’ (doff of the cap to Harry Redknapp!) player. In my opinion, real top players offer their team a lot more than this man does, and more to the point...they have the desire to do it in every game. Rom has a hatful of talent but, from what I see, lacks the heart and/or intelligence to go with it.

Ray Roche
110 Posted 24/02/2016 at 21:56:28
As Ste has said, we scored 64 goals through Lineker and Sharp that season and but for the accumulation of factors, LFC’s unprecedented run of victories, injuries etc., we would have won the League that year. I have little doubt that Lineker and Sharp would have forged a successful partnership that would have continued for several seasons and projected us to greater things but for the short sightedness of our board who could see the pound signs and the chance to double their money after twelve months.

I also think that Howard Kendall was either covering up for the board selling Gary Lineker or deflecting flak away from his decision to leave for Athletic Bilbao after his dream of managing Barcelona evaporated. Whether we played a long ball (why is it considered to be a bad thing when we play a long ball but, when Stevie Me did, it is was a wonderful pass with vision and skill?) or not it was exciting and successful and was just one facet of the great football we played in the 1980s.

#105 Oooops... sorry John.

Ian Riley
111 Posted 24/02/2016 at 22:08:28
Neil (109) if Martinez concentrated more on the defensive side of our game and more of a counter attack play.

Lukaku would up his game. I do think our 'slow get there' tomorrow approach frustrates him.

A faster tempo would suit him far more. Let’s face it, what position would we be in without him?
Neil Steele
112 Posted 24/02/2016 at 23:19:45
I get that Ian, totally, but if you are a 'philosophy' manager, as Roberto clearly need the right players for your system, not change your system to fit malfunctioning players.

More to the point though, I don't think it needs that. The things I am asking for in his game are not black magic, and he is well capable of giving that he should be modifying his approach to increase his game contribution, thus making him a higher calibre player.

TBH he was dreadful last season and has come on a great deal since then, but i'd still personally say he is way below his first year levels with us. I do his his agent Riola's comments to him about 'getting his goals' has led in a large part to him playing in this very selfish on the shoulder, in behind the line way. It his helping his goals return, but not the team to win football matches. Its easy to blame the defence (and they have been awful), but if you have possession..the opposition cant score, and he offers us pretty much zilch in terms of retaining the ball.

Greg Lambden
113 Posted 25/02/2016 at 13:38:44
He may score his fair share of goals (although he should score more in my opinion) but I think he also plays a part in our defensive frailties. When a team is under pressure, you need a striker who is able to get the ball under control quickly, hold it up, and wait for support. These are without doubt some of his weakest attributes.
Ian Riley
114 Posted 25/02/2016 at 20:38:20
I agree, Lukaku has areas of his game that require improvement. Ball-retention and work-rate are two. Not perfect by any means but, in our position, we need his goals. The options we have are limited. His age is a factor here and developing is the key. Once he irons out such areas on a consistent basis, then he will pick his next club!
Alan Bodell
115 Posted 26/02/2016 at 18:46:54
We are all split on opinion over Lukaku for obvious reasons, i.e., his awful lethargy and lack of anticipation.His goal tally is impressive but with the service given then the return is poor.

I want him to be a beast but he just seems to want it when he wants it. Benteke is on his way out over there and I’d buy him and lose our lazy boy with money in our pocket.

Amit Vithlani
116 Posted 26/02/2016 at 18:57:56
Replace Lukaku with Benteke? Good grief.
Alan Bodell
117 Posted 26/02/2016 at 19:58:15
Amit, yes Benteke is a lot older but he ’has’ a desire in his game that our man is seriously lacking and – with him being let go soon by them over there – I’d love him to replace his lazy fellow countryman and we’d have a nice profit from wherever Lukaku sees himself at with his inevitable next move.
Peter Roberts
119 Posted 27/02/2016 at 11:31:46
Interesting... we have a £28m club record striker and he scores goals.... yet he splits the fans and attracts criticism...

Why is that? Do fans love to slate top quality players??? No. They get annoyed at players who don't seem to care for the shirt as much as they do.

Lukaku has himself to blame, not some fans who don't see 21 goals as being the sole requirement of an Everton player.

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