Steve Bruce made an interesting point at the weekend, talking about Romelu Lukaku: he pointed out that although Chelsea have sent him out on loan, he's so good that he'll still be doing them a favour by taking points off other clubs.
I totally disagree.
How many points could Lukaku have got for Chelsea this season if he'd been there? How many games have they played when they've just been crying out for an in-form striker, and have had to scratch around for goals from the midfield?
If they'd kept him at Stamford Bridge this season, they could be top.
All this talk about Lukaku doing Chelsea favours is a cop out. It's the sort of thing Jose Mourinho himself would say to try and cover up a mistake - because that's exactly what it is. A huge mistake.
Mourinho's teams have never been about playing cultured football, they're about keeping things tight at the back and getting the ball forward as much as you can. If he'd wanted a side to play cultured football he'd have kept the same players and tactics that Rafa Benitez used last season, because that side was playing very nice stuff. At the very least he'd have made the most of having Juan Mata around.
But Mourinho has kept faith with the same direct tactics he's used throughout his career - and when you play like that the one thing you need is a great forward.
You need someone capable of scoring lots of goals, capable of pulling off great goals and capable of making goals for others through their sheer physical force. Lukaku is that player, and it was rash of Mourinho to send him out on loan.
The irony is that Mourinho himself knows better than anyone that he needs a powerful striker, because that’s the sort of player he had in Didier Drogba. I'd actually say Lukaku is more capable since he's more of a runner, more of an athlete. He's a young player, but he could mature into someone even better than Drogba.
So all talk of how good it is that he's doing Chelsea favours by taking points off their title rivals is a cop out, and actually derogatory to Lukaku. Just imagine what he could have done with better players around him.
None of this means I don't like the loan system - there's no doubt in my mind that the best way to get better as a player is to play with and against the best. Before players were allowed to be loaned out in the same division there were too many instances of promising youngsters who went out to lower league clubs and actually dropped a few levels while they were away.
But Chelsea have taken it too far with Lukaku. There's no doubt he'd have been a bit disappointed to get sent out to West Brom last season, but rather than get depressed about it he put his head down and set about proving Chelsea wrong. He did everything that could have been asked of him at West Brom and earned his chance.
So to send him out on loan again this season? That's Mourinho making a big, big mistake. If I was Lukaku, I'd be aiming for a permanent move somewhere else because I'd much rather be somewhere I was wanted. They've not done him any favours, but after a season and a third proving he's one of the best strikers in the league - and certainly better than the ailing Eto'o and the constantly up-and-down Torres - he'll be beginning to wonder if he actually owes Chelsea anything at all.
So all this stuff about stopping others and thereby helping Chelsea out? It's rubbish. The best way to stop others is to do it yourself.
- Sports & Recreation
- Romelu Lukaku
- Jose Mourinho