Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hopes Romelu Lukaku is ready to seize a starring role in his Manchester United revolution after the Belgium striker finally showed signs of emerging from his prolonged slump.
United extended their impressive Premier League run with a 3-1 win at Crystal Palace on Wednesday that puts a third-place finish in their sights ahead of struggling Southampton’s visit to Old Trafford on Saturday.
That is a stunning turnaround given the troubled state the club was in when Solskjaer took over from the sacked Jose Mourinho in December.
Paul Pogba has been a key figure in United’s 14-game unbeaten streak in domestic action, the France midfielder benefitting more than most from the arrival of the popular Solskjaer as interim boss.
But Lukaku is also offering evidence he can blossom under Solskjaer after destroying Palace with the return of his trademark power and predatory finishing.
The 25-year-old struggled in the first half of this season and lacked regular starts in the early days of Solskjaer’s reign.
The Norwegian has encouraged a more attacking philosophy than Mourinho and initially based his formation around the in-form Marcus Rashford as United’s central striker.
Lukaku was forced to adapt to a role off the bench as a replacement forward or as a winger, a job he performed well over his six substitute and three starting league appearances since Solskjaer took over.