by Caleb Sage
Romelu Lukaku was brought to Chelsea in August 2011 for a fee around £18 million. Many questioned who in fact is this young centre forward Chelsea have brought in and why for so much. Personally I was pleased with the signing. I had watched Lukaku play previously on many occasions for Anderlecht and was quite impressed. A young forward with strength, speed and most importantly the capability to put the ball in the back of the net. What else would a manager want in a striker? We’ll you’ll have to ask Andre Villas-Boas that but anyway back to the main point. With Didier Drogba having a year left on his contract and Fernando Torres only managing to score 1 goal in 18 games in all competitions the previous season, maybe Lukaku would be the answer to Chelsea’s problem. However this was not the case and although Chelsea went on to win the UEFA Champions League along with the FA Cup, they finished 6th place in the league, their lowest league finish since 2002 were they also finished 6th. During this period Lukaku only managed to make 12 appearances in all competitions.
Towards the end of the season Lukaku would go on to say the following about AVB his former coach. ‘There is one person that I will never forgive for what he did to me – the previous coach. It’s not just that. It was also the way he spoke to me and treated me. Right from the beginning, it was weird. I could not stand how he was treating me. I received no explanation. In training, he put me on the right or left wing. In training matches, I was a substitute with a shirt to keep swapping teams. I really learned nothing!’ Personally I was hugely disappointed with how Lukaku was utilized during his debut season at Chelsea. Especially with a constant string of poor performances from Fernando Torres.
After a successful 2011/2012 season Chelsea would head to the United States for their pre-season tour. Their first match took place in Seattle against the Seattle sounders where Chelsea would go on to win 4-2. New boys Eden Hazard and Marko Marin stole the show however Romelu Lukaku’s brace made you think that he possibly could have been an asset the previous season. With Drogba leaving the club for China, Lukaku looked to show that he has the ability to replace his idol. However he would not have the chance to do this at Chelsea as he would be loaned to West Brom. I was disappointed to see him go on loan as I believed even at that time that he could offer the club so much. Unfortunately it didn’t look like he was going to be a part of Roberto Di Mateo’s plans so this loan move was for the best. Ultimately we know it was I believe that it was down to Steve Clarke. Lukaku knows himself better than anyone so I’m sure he knows his potential and how good he really is. However after being treated so poorly by AVB I’m sure he lost his way a bit and lost a lot of confidence in himself. However Steve Clark was there to put his arm around Lukaku’s shoulder. He slowly integrated him in to the squad. Gave him a reasonable amount of playing time. But most importantly put his faith in to him which is what any younger player needs. In return Lukaku gave Steve Clarke bags of goals. 17 goals in the premier league and 4 assists. In the same season Torres scored 8 league goals whilst Ba scored 2. Does anymore need to be said?
After two seasons it looks like Lukaku is finally set to be given a real chance at Chelsea thanks to Jose Mourinho. I think that Chelsea for the past couple seasons have been crying out for a centre forward like Lukaku. I still think that Chelsea do need another striker perhaps Rooney. In my opinion Torres has been given too much chances whilst Ba really looks like he struggles to grasp on to how Chelsea play at times. The last two seasons the Barclays Premier League has been won by both the Manchester clubs. Anything in common perhaps? Yes they both did so by having four strikers at disposal. Personally I would love to see Lukaku and Rooney being our main two strikers with Mourinho giving them fair amounts of playing time each. Ba as a back up as I still believe him to be of use and if worst comes to shove Andre Schurrle could always operate the number 9 role. I honestly give up on Torres and think he should be out of the picture but I can’t see that happening or Manchester united selling Rooney to Chelsea.
Overall I’m pleased that Lukaku is finally been given his chance. He has been very impressive so far this pre-season notching up 4 goals in 3 games. I’m sure Jose will be a man of meritocracy this upcoming season especially when choosing his front man and at this current moment I’m sure it will be Lukaku.
Conclusively would I say Chelsea are title challengers? Yes of course I would. Strong squad, strong individuals and a strong and very influential manager. Will Chelsea win the title? Possibly. The lack of fire power upfront is still quite worrying. Manchester City’s new strike force looks very threatening on the other hand. Does Lukaku Merit any potential chance he receives this season? OF COURSE! I’m sure he has been waiting for this since he came to Chelsea. But the magic question that everyone has been asking is Lukaku or Benteke? What’s your answer but most importantly what’s your view on Lukaku?