How a new diet boosted Lukaku's hunger for goals
Romelu Lukaku has had to lose muscle and alter his diet to restore his goalscoring powers at Manchester United.
Those remedies pinpointed by Lukaku and United’s medical staff have helped the Belgium striker to cure his self-diagnosed hangover from the World Cup.
A 12-match goal drought for the Reds has been ended with two strikes in his last three appearances, in the 2-2 draw with Southampton and 4-1 win over Fulham on consecutive Saturdays.
Lukaku stormed into the new season for United with four goals in five games following a successful World Cup in Russia where he helped Belgium to reach the semi-finals. His country were beaten in St Petersburg in the last four by eventual winners France and then won the bronze medal after beating England in the third-place play-off.
However, it seems there was a delayed reaction for Lukaku in club football and he believes the reason for this was the hard gym work he did in Russia to bulk up for international duty.
“I added a little bit of muscle at the World Cup,” Romelu reflected, when speaking to reporters after the Fulham game.
“I just felt great and I think I played great over there [in Russia], but when I came back it is a different style of football. In the Premier League I cannot play with the same amount of muscle as I do in international football.
“When I came back I knew straightaway, I cannot play in this style. I had to lose muscle basically. So you just stay out of the gym, drink a lot of water, eat a lot of vegetables and fish and it helps.”
Having lost muscle, Lukaku then had to answer manager Jose Mourinho’s call to be more aggressive!
“I had good conversations with the manager in the last couple of days [before the Fulham game], when he told me what he wanted from me. And I know from my side I have to do better.
So what did Mourinho pinpoint as an area of improvement?
”I wasn't playing with enough intensity or aggression,” said Lukaku.
“But against Fulham I think I played with intensity like everybody else did.”
So why does Romelu think his aggression tailed off, after a blistering start to the season after returning from Russia?
“After the World Cup, I think I was a bit tired,” he explained.
“I had the same thing in 2014 after the World Cup, when I came back to Everton. I was really in a slump after that World Cup.
“I knew that, so I did a lot of tests with the medical staff to see what the problem was. Also I had a hamstring injury, which is something that never happens to me. I just had to train differently, working more on [injury] prevention in the gym and try to do more speed bursts in training which, for me, are the most essential.
“There was also a mental hangover from the World Cup because it was intense. It was really intense because we got so close to absolute glory. But now I think I am at a decent level again and ready to go again. I just keep looking forward and improving, trying to add to my game and to help the team to win.”