OLE GUNNAR SOLSKJAER has unearthed Manchester United’s latest super sub.
And it could be a role Romelu Lukaku has to get used to over the coming weeks.
Reuters4 It was Romelu Lukaku's first touch – and it was a vital one as he opened the scoring against Newcastle
After being unavailable for Solskjaer’s first two games in caretaker charge, the big Belgian scored two minutes after coming off the bench against Bournemouth on Sunday.
And Lukaku made an even more immediate impact last night at Newcastle, firing in with his first touch only seconds after his 63rd-minute introduction.
It will have hurt the £75million striker that he was not starting at St James’ Park.
Solskjaer clearly fancies Marcus Rashford as his man down the middle.
Getty Images – Getty4 Romelu Lukaku scored with his first touch and is proving a supersub – just like his new gaffer used to be
Because even with Jesse Lingard rested from his front three last night, the Norwegian opted to bring in Juan Mata rather than recall Lukaku and move Rashford out wide.
Having set his stall out, Solskjaer is bound to give Rashford time to shine in his lone striker role.
Especially as the England starlet’s 80th-minute strike against Newcastle meant he has now netted three in four games under his new gaffer.
So for now, all Lukaku can do is what he has managed in his last two games – coming off the bench and scoring, just like Solskjaer found fame for during his Old Trafford playing days.
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In those early stages at St James’, Lukaku must have been watching on and wondering where it has all gone wrong for him in recent months.
While Newcastle’s defenders were probably breathing a sigh of relief because they have been bullied by the Belgian down the years.
In his previous 11 games against the Toon for United, Everton and West Brom, Lukaku had a hand in ten goals – six goals and four assists.
But Lukaku has had nothing near that sort of influence this season and, under Solskjaer, is clearly no longer the guaranteed starter he once was.
Solskjaer, of course, knows a thing or two about playing in Lukaku’s position.
PA:Empics Sport4 He might not like it, but Romelu Lukaku might have to get used to being an option from the bench for a while
As does Newcastle legend Alan Shearer, who said last night: “Romelu Lukaku can be leaner.
“He is maybe half a stone overweight
“If he listens to Solskjaer he can start playing well and start scoring goals.”
As well as shedding some weight, Lukaku will also clearly have to adapt his game.
After his goalscoring return against Bournemouth, Solskjaer said: “He’s a good target man but if you tell him to be a target man he’ll never face the goal.”
Under Jose Mourinho, this is what Lukaku became – a forward who spent most of his time with his back to goal and wanting the ball to his feet.
But Solskjaer wants his strikers to sprint behind defences – just like he used to do.
AFP4 Marcus Rashford looks like he is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's first choice as central striker
And that is why, despite two in two for Lukaku, Rashford fits the bill for Solskjaer at this moment in time, with Anthony Martial and, usually, Lingard bombing on beside him.
Solskjaer will likely start Lukaku on Saturday in the home FA Cup tie against Reading.
And he must make the most of his opportunity against the Championship’s second-worst side.
Even then, however, Rashford will take some wrestling from his starting spot.
And Lukaku has it all to prove in the final five months of this season if he wants to avoid morphing into what his manager was as a player.