Romelu Lukaku scored a stoppage-time penalty to earn Inter Milan three points almost exactly two hours after the full-time whistle at the Vitality Stadium.
Man United’s result – a 1-0 defeat to Bournemouth – reversed the partial momentum gained through four consecutive positive results (three wins and a draw to league leaders Liverpool).
The fact their former striker bagged a brace to take his tally to nine league goals for the season only added salt to the wound.
As Daniel Storey pointed out, Lukaku has scored more league goals than United since the start of September.
Lukau became something of a punchline in the latter half of his Old Trafford spell.
His first touch remains a popular meme and many mocked his physical shape as he appeared less lean and athletic in his second season — Belgium wanted him to be huge for the 2018 World Cup.
But was it his fault his time at England’s biggest club didn’t work out?
Or was he corrupted by a toxic environment?
First of all, it should be acknowledged that Lukaku’s United career was not as bad as the memes would have you believe.
He scored 42 goals in 96 games — 28 in 66 league games.
While these numbers may be below what people expect of a £75million striker for a club of United’s stature, they are relatively respectable.
Lukaku should not be put in the same bracket as genuine flops Alexis Sanchez (five goals in 45 games) and Radamel Falcao (four goals in 29 games).
Some will argue that the standard of Serie A is not as high as the Premier League.
While that is probably true, Lukaku scored 17 goals for West Brom in the top flight in 2012/13 and plundered 68 goals for Everton in four seasons.
The Belgian scored 113 Premier League goals before his 26th birthday — nobody could say the standard was above him.
When you have a player who scores freely everywhere except for one club, logic dictates the issue may be with that club rather than the player.
Or at least that possibility should be explored.
Many Man United fans will reject the idea that anyone other than Lukaku himself was responsible for his high-profile misses and wayward first touches.
And it’s true that he is not totally blameless.
But is it not conceivable the environment at United was not conducive to his best form?
Most admit the atmosphere at Old Trafford during Jose Mourinho’s third season was toxic.
And United have too often been a tactical mess in the last two and half seasons.
Is it not possible his form was hampered by a lack of confidence?
His body language in his second season suggested a certain degree of demoralisation.
Lukaku is not a player who can flourish in any system or environment, but the evidence proves he’s an effective goalscorer when the set-up (both on and off the pitch) suits him.
It’s hardly a revelation that something at Man United is rotten.
The Lukaku situation simply underlines how detrimental the problem is, and how important it is that a solution is found as soon as possible.
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