A donkey. No first touch. Can’t link up the play. Just three criticisms labelled at Romelu Lukaku. Perhaps at times they are fair. But not consistently. This is a man who has scored more goals than Alexander Lacazette and Alvaro Morata in all competitions. 21 of them.
So, while Harry Kane, Mohammad Salah and Sergio Aguero may have found the net nearly double the amount of times than Lukaku in the Premier League, his overall outreach across the board of competitions has almost single handily got United to where they are at the moment.
And against Huddersfield he put in a performance so full of energy, fluidity and decisiveness that it was difficult not to believe that United had found the perfect striker.
From the start he harangued Terriers centre-backs Christopher Schindler and Mathias Jørgensen. In just two minutes space in the midfield appeared, with Juan Mata latching on to the ball. A pinpoint pass found the oncoming run of Lukaku to the left of the goal, the Belgian striker fooling his hapless marker with a neat diagonal run.
There was still a lot to do though. With time and space running out, Lukaku turned back inside in the box, a split second decision which still speaks of the confidence that flows through the bloodstream of the striker. Composure in that moment is difficult to accomplish with self-doubt, so it said a lot about Lukaku’s state of mind.
With the finish to match United had an early 1-0 lead, slightly ironic given how early they had lost a lead at Wembley against Tottenham Hotspur just two weeks before. The pressure from Huddersfield increased and then Juan Mata had what looked like a perfectly good goal disallowed.
So it still looked more likely that the home side would be the most likely team to score and force a replay at Old Trafford. With United in the UEFA Champions League the last thing they needed was a an unnecessary extra game. They were in need of a crucial second goal. Step forward Lukaku.
This time Alexis Sanchez the one to set it up. Like Mata’s picture perfect through ball early in the first half, the Chilean’s sliced through the core of the Huddersfield back-line, unleashing Lukaku who pointed the direction he wanted it.
The rest was just tidying up. On his left foot, even with three players tracking back, Lukaku created the angle to calmly but powerfully strike the ball into the bottom corner. It was United’s second shot on target in the game and proved enough.
The question now is can he do this on a consistent level. Games against Sevilla, Chelsea and Liverpool on the near horizon will prove an acid test to see if that’s the case.