Lukaku faces huge step-up at United, says Carrick

Manchester United's Romelu Lukaku (left) and Los Angeles Galaxy's Ashley Cole battling for the ball during a friendly match on Saturday in Carson City, California. United won 5-2 in the opening game of a five-match pre-season tour of the United State
Manchester United's Romelu Lukaku (left) and Los Angeles Galaxy's Ashley Cole battling for the ball during a friendly match on Saturday in Carson City, California. United won 5-2 in the opening game of a five-match pre-season tour of the United States.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • Romelu Lukaku faces a challenge to adjust to the demands of playing for Manchester United, according to the English Premier League club's new captain, Michael Carrick.

Carrick moved to Old Trafford from Tottenham Hotspur in 2006 and is now United's longest-serving player following Wayne Rooney's departure to Everton.

Lukaku, meanwhile, played his first game for United in a 5-2 win against LA Galaxy in Carson City on Saturday, the opening game of a five-match pre-season tour.

Lukaku, who joined from Everton for £75 million (S$134 million), failed to score but appeared to settle instantly - though Carrick was quick to emphasise the pressure that comes with playing for the 20-time English champions.

"The jump is massive," Carrick said. "I found that myself, coming from Tottenham. You can't really explain to people until they've gone through it.

"I'm sure he'll find it the same. But having Premier League experience is a massive bonus. He'll know how things work and it's just about dealing with the pressure.

"He does what he does best and obviously he's been brought here to score goals. I am pretty certain he will do that this season."

Lukaku has scored 85 Premier League goals since 2012 and was signed to be the replacement for Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who netted 28 goals for United last season.

However, Carrick was reluctant to draw parallels between the two players.

"Ibra was terrific for us but Rom is his own man," said the 35-year-old.

"When I came it was Roy Keane who came up but I'm my own man. Whoever comes in, you're always your own man. I don't want to compare them at all.

"He'll be judged like anyone else - on what he does through the season. The scrutiny will go up a level from what he's used to. But I'm sure he's prepared for that and I'm sure he will do well."

Carrick is also adamant that United have to challenge for the Premier League title next campaign.

"We have to challenge the best and be the best," he said. "It has to be that philosophy at this club no matter what happens, this season is no different. We've got a good feeling going into this one.

"We've got the Super Cup (against Real Madrid on Aug 8) coming up pretty quick, so we've got to be focused on that really and then the season ahead."

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 18, 2017, with the headline 'Lukaku faces huge step-up at United, says Carrick'. Print Edition | Subscribe