LONDON, Sept 19: When Romelu Lukaku slotted the ball into the Everton net, the Manchester United striker had no intention of holding back on the celebrations.
Far from it. Especially after being jeered during Sunday’s Premier League game by the Everton fans who revered him before an offseason transfer across northern England. The Belgian, who cost 75 million pounds (then $97 million), cupped his right ear to those supporters.
“The celebration was just a bit of banter,” Lukaku said after scoring the third goal in a 4-0 drubbing of Everton. “I missed the free kick and they jeered me but I scored the rebound.”
It compounded the miserable run for his former club. It’s now four consecutive losses in all competitions, three in the league, with Everton conceding 12 goals without reply in the process.
So early in the season, it’s looking bleak for Ronald Koeman’s side which demonstrated such ambition in the summer when it spent 140 million pounds ($190 million) on talent. That doesn’t even take into account the free transfer of former United captain Wayne Rooney, who experienced a depressing return to Old Trafford on the pitch.
At least he received a warm reception, perhaps out of sympathy for the predicament he’s facing at his new team. The poor run of form started with a 2-0 loss last month to Chelsea, which was held 0-0 by Arsenal in Sunday’s other game.
UNITED GOAL FLURRY
Only alphabetical order is separating Manchester United and neighbor City at the top of the standings. After five games they have identical records. It is 4 wins and a draw each. Both have scored 16 times and only conceded twice.
Yet it was only Antonio Valencia’s half-volley in the fourth minute separating United and Everton until the 83rd minute when Henrikh Mkhitaryan slotted in a second. Lukaku struck in the 89th minute and a handball by Morgan Schneiderlin allowed Anthony Martial to slot in a penalty in the second minute of stoppage time.
At the end of a week when fellow Dutchman Frank de Boer lost his job after only four games at Crystal Palace, Koeman is feeling the heat at Everton.
“We need to win, if you don’t win then it is better to stop,” Koeman said. “Every manager in life has doubts. There is nobody who doesn’t have doubts as a manager. And if you don’t win you know you have a big number of players in your squad, and you have doubts about what system to play. This is normal. Of course I ask myself the question ‘Why?’ Why?”
It’s time, though to be “realistic,” according to the former Southampton manager in his second season at Everton.
“Fans, press, we need time,” Koeman said. “But it is difficult in football.”
Not so for United, which has won its three home matches and scored 12 goals without conceding.
RED MIST FOR BLUES
For the fifth time in eight matches, Chelsea had a player sent off. But David Luiz’s dismissal in the 87th minute for a high, sliding challenge on Sead Kolasinac came too late for Arsenal to produce a winner.
Still, a draw against the champions gave Arsenal its first point at Stamford Bridge in six years and provided a psychological reset after losses to Stoke and Liverpool in its last two away games.
“There was a battle all over the pitch and we responded well in domains where we were questioned,” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said. “I like it when the team shows that kind of response. So overall I feel it’s a deserved point and with a bit more freedom and less inhibition I feel we could have won this game with one or two goals difference.
“Overall, first it was important at least not to lose today and you could feel that in the team. In the last 20 minutes we played with that in our minds.” –AP