When Romelu Lukaku signed for Chelsea he claimed that it was a dream come true. He was only a teenager and idolised Didier Drogba, so getting to play at Stamford Bridge was as good as it got for the Belgian.
Lukaku spent the majority of his first season playing for the Reserves but still managed 12 games for the first team, even if he didn’t manage to score.
In his second season, he was loaned out to West Brom where he thrived. He scored 17 goals in 38 games, as well as bagging 4 assists, and was hugely popular with the fans. He kissed the West Brom badge and was in his element, but always reiterated his desire to return to Chelsea.
So far this season, Lukaku has featured in 3 of the 4 games that Chelsea have played, coming on for the last 15 minutes against Hull before playing 25 minutes against Aston Villa, before playing against Bayern Munich.
However, when Chelsea made the journey to Old Trafford, Jose Mourinho opted to start the match with no recognised strikers and when he did decide to bring one on, it was Fernando Torres.
In last night’s game against Bayern Munich in the UEFA Super Cup final, Lukaku again started the game on the bench. After a 1-1 draw, Lukaku was brought on in extra time to play the last 20 minutes of the game.
After the German side took the game to penalties with the last kick of the ball, Lukaku was named amongst the penalty takers. Experienced players like Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole were amongst those named, and both scored, yet it was the inexperience Lukaku, who’s never scored for the club, who was given the responsibility of the 5th penalty.
When Chelsea won the European Cup in 2012, it was Dider Drogba who was trusted with the final penalty, and it was a tactic that proved successful. But Lukaku is no Drogba, even if he is billed to one day emulate him, and you have to wonder why Mourinho opted to put Lukaku in that situation.
The striker crumbled under the pressure, firing a tame penalty in the direction of Manuel Neuer, leaving the German with an easy save to make. As soon as he started his run up you could tell he was going to miss. He certainly didn’t have the strut of Didier Drogba from a year ago.
Whilst this trophy is not a priority for Chelsea, it is still silverware, and silverware they missed out on last season after winning the Champions League. Lukaku now has 15 Chelsea appearances to his name, still no goals, and now is the player responsible for costing them a trophy. Did John Terry not fancy another European penalty shoot out? Did Mourinho genuinely believe, having barely given him a go this season, that Lukaku was the best player to deal with this pressure? The decision making certainly seems strange.
Mourinho pays the price though, with yet another victory for Pep Guardiola, and an opportunity to add to his trophy haul missed.