Former Everton star is now ready to lead the line at Old Trafford and Special One is adamant he can do the business
JOSE MOURINHO believes he has the man who will turn all those draws into wins.
Last season, Manchester United drew 15 league games, more than any other Premier League side.
One more goal in each of those and that is another 30 points and the title.
Now with Romelu Lukaku, however, Mourinho has the out-and-out striker he wanted to take chances that went begging in those games. A real proven goalscorer at the very top of his game. United have not had that for some time.
He does not want him dropping deep and linking up play and floating around. Just stay high up there, give defenders nightmares and put the ball in the net.
While the Belgian’s rather clumsy first touch in his first training session with United here in Los Angeles brought scorn on social media, his new team-mates have been impressed by what they have seen.
Forward Jesse Lingard, 24, said: “I think Rom settled very well. You saw how well he did for Everton last season and the amount of goals he scored.
“He’ll score in big games. If he can bring that to the table at Manchester United, it will be a big help.
“He’s a very strong lad, has a very physical presence and he’s going to cause defenders problems this season.
“We’ve already witnessed what he can do in training and if he can bring that it will be huge.”
It was Lukaku’s proven Premier League pedigree that was important to Mourinho prior to spending big on a frontman.
Mourinho admitted on Friday that he had tried to get Alvaro Morata from Real Madrid but the Spanish giants were asking for too much.
But Lukaku, 24, was always his No 1 choice because of his Premier League return, rather than a player who may need time to settle in and get used to English football.
In one season on loan at West Brom, he scored 17 league goals in 35 games. Then, in four seasons at Everton, he hit 67 in 141 league games. Forget about any feud between striker and manager after he let him leave Stamford Bridge.
Mourinho confirmed on Friday the pair kept in touch. It is a different situation now and a different player.
The Special One said: “We are back together in different moments and I have no doubts it is going to work.”
There is a real positivity and determination about Mourinho’s demeanour out here.
The training has been full-on with the players given only one afternoon off since arriving last Sunday.
Mourinho likes it in Los Angeles and training at UCLA having been here before with Chelsea and Real Madrid.
He believes it is where new players like Lukaku and Victor Lindelof will properly get to know their new team-mates.
Mourinho said: “It is important for the players to be together 24 hours a day for 2½ weeks to welcome the new players and try to make them adapt as soon as possible.”
United kicked off their US tour in the early hours of this morning English time against LA Galaxy.
They will go on to play another MLS side, Real Salt Lake, and then Manchester City, Real Madrid and Barcelona.
For Mourinho the opposition provides the perfect preparation, not least for the step up from the Europa League to the Champions League.
Mourinho said: “The opponents are good because American teams are in the middle of their competition, so it’s good to have tired people against fresh people.
“They will play at a higher speed and intensity. Then we are against some of the best clubs in the world, against some of the best players in the world.
“That’s good for us going back into the Champions League, a different reality to the Europa League, which is difficult to win. But in the Champions League we are going to find the four or five best teams in the world.
“In City, Real Madrid and Barcelona we are going to get that here.”