Lukaku: Practice has made perfect for us
Romelu Lukaku says one of the key factors behind Manchester United's recent great run has been replicating the work done in training during games.
Recent memorable team moves against Tottenham Hotspur and Leicester City, leading to two winning goals from Marcus Rashford, are great examples of exactly how practice makes perfect.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has already demonstrated his tactical nous in tricky matches this season and one switch he made recently was to play Lukaku on the right in the Emirates FA Cup victory at Arsenal. The decision worked a treat with Lukaku setting up two of the Reds’ three goals and the man himself says it’s very rewarding to see the team’s work in training paying off in matches.
"A lot of our training sessions are offensive-based and that helps us a lot because the patterns are in your head and when you play [in games] it comes out naturally," our no.9 told us.
"When we do the 8 v 8 [games in training] Ole is always watching and giving little bits of advice about how to keep your body position or how best to run to the near post or get to the back post.
"He gives details for me, Marcus [Rashford] and Anthony [Martial] as strikers in terms of how to move and things like that and because he’s been a player himself he understands the needs of players. He makes it a competitive environment too – we have a lot of games in training, like 8 v 8 or 7 v 7 so the competitiveness is there but it’s also a good environment to be in and that helps us to get the best out of each other.
"In terms of positions I used to play as a nine and sometimes a 10 when I was growing up in the Academy back home," he continues, "and when I went to Everton I was only 20 and still in the learning stage of my career. One game I played against Arsenal I was played wide on the right and it started from there and you then try to play in a way that you know you can be dangerous to the other team. As soon as I played in that position for a couple of games I knew what I could do best in that position.
"I’ve always said I’m a goalscorer first but I really take pride in helping to put other players in the best position in front of goal if I cannot be there myself. I really enjoy giving assists as well and I really want to be a striker that has a lot of goals but a lot of assists at the same time."
A victory at Fulham on Saturday can temporarily take the Reds into the top four and Lukaku says the players are determined to finish the season there.
"I think we always knew we had the quality to be in the top four but at the end of the day you have to put the work in to get there and that’s what we’ve been doing. We’ve been trying to dominate games and score as many games as we can and as soon as the games are finished we just look forward to the next one," he explained.
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Rojo features in our exclusive shots of the lads, from the final session before Saturday's match at Craven Cottage.
"Every game for us is like a final because we need to get into the top four. Obviously we’re Man United and we want to play for trophies and we still have trophies to try to win, but our main aim is to end as high as we can in the league as well.
"We’re just focused. When we come into the dressing room we know it’s business. We know games might be difficult, like it was against Leicester and we had to grind out at the result, but we know we can also go out there and dominate teams on our day."
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