Jose Mourinho has named striker Romelu Lukaku on the bench as the Reds meet his old club Everton at Old Trafford.
The manager has explained that he feels his centre-forward has been lacking in confidence of late and that is why he has taken him out of the firing line.
““The reason is that he is playing a lot of matches and, lately, not just not scoring goals but, fundamentally, not showing lots of confidence,”” said Jose in a pre-match interview with Sky Sports.
““Sometimes, we decide the best thing for the player is not to be on the pitch but to be protected and to be away from the initial pressure. If, later, he comes into the game, he can probably come with a positive feeling of trying to make a difference and be back to normality. And normality for Romelu is scoring lots of goals and, because of that, Romelu is under a bit of pressure.””
Lukaku has not scored since his goal at Watford in the Reds’ Premier League match at Vicarage Road in September.
It had been an impressive start to the campaign by the striker, after returning from the World Cup in Russia with Belgium. He was on the bench in the league opener at Old Trafford in August against Leicester City and came on as a sub.
He has started every match since and his opening goal figures were four in four starts with his goal against Watford adding to strikes against Brighton and Burnley.
Brazilian Fred has come in for Lukaku in the starting XI with Mourinho making just the one change from the Champions League side that began against Juventus in last Tuesday’s 1-0 defeat.
Jose is delighted to have two potential game-changers back on the bench after injury.
““Alexis and Lingard are making an effort to be available to try to give the team what we didn’t have in the last couple of matches, people on the bench to at least be available.”
”It’s a big effort they make as they are not 100 per cent, of course not, but they have something to give. To have Romelu, plus Jesse and Alexis on the bench, gives us options.”“”