Lukaku’s cupping is perfect antidote to antiseptic non-celebrations

By Jonathan White Source:Global Times Published: 2017/9/19 23:03:39

Romelu Lukaku has proved himself a breath of fresh air in his brief Manchester United career. Not because he has provided a rather mobile contrast to the club's most recent occupant of the No.9 shirt nor his record-equaling goal-­scoring run since signing from Everton, but because he's happy to celebrate against his former club.

The current vogue among footballers is that if you score against one of your past employers then you don't celebrate. To do so is poor form, a sign of disrespect. Sure, it's OK to score but you can't be seen to enjoy it. That's utter nonsense and Lukaku knows it.

When he scored United's third during Everton's visit to Old Trafford on Sunday, he ran toward the visiting fans cupping his ear. Good on him, they asked for it. In the passage of play ­leading up to the goal, Lukaku drilled a freekick into the wall to boos from his former club's fans. Seconds later he had smashed in at the back post from the ball being knocked back in the box. He was happy and let them know it.

Just "banter" was how described it in the aftermath and he had given as good as he got three times during the game. He put his lips to the away section when he set Henrikh Mkhitaryan up for United's second, then his goal, and finally he celebrated Anthony Martial's penalty for United's fourth when the Frenchman was making his run up.

It makes a change from the mawkishness that has come to dominate the professional game. The list of players not celebrating is growing ever longer and while it used to be an exception confined to those regarded as club legends, it's become farcical. Nowadays, unless there is outright hatred from both parties then it is the norm even for average players who were deemed surplus to requirements or those who left their old team high and dry.

If you have that much respect for your former club then you probably shouldn't score against them. If that's the case then don't play. Or never leave. If Rooney scored for Everton on Sunday in his first game at Old Trafford since leaving United this summer, then he would have been well within his rights to celebrate. Entirely up to him but no United fan should think any less of him if he had done. He celebrated at Goodison Park when he scored his first United goal there but Everton fans seem to be over that now he's back.

People forget that people forget - especially now when everyone is on Twitter calling for heads to roll. But if you're bothered by what idiots on social media say then you probably aren't cut out to be a professional footballer anyway. The chances are that the fans at the ground will chant much worse and you silence them with goals.

It looks like Lukaku knows that but he'd best remember when he returns to Goodison Park for the first time on New Year's Day. After Sunday, he will need to shut up a home crowd with plenty to say.

The author is a Shanghai-based freelance writer. jmawhite@gmail.com

Posted in: EXTRA TIME

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