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Lukaku vs Man Utd fans: Why the self-pity won't work at Inter Milan

COMMENT: It's not going to wash. Not in Italy, anyway. This self-pitying, woe-is-me stuff. If Romelu Lukaku maintains this approach at Inter Milan, he's not going to last long.

In context, there is a rationale to his complaints. In his two seasons with Manchester United, Lukaku was barracked by a section of the support. He was - unfairly for this column - made a scapegoat for the club's problems. And those behind the glass did more to highlight the deficiencies in his game, rather than his strengths.

But to hear the new Inter striker let it all out this week. To admit that the noise from the stands actually did get under his skin, really smacked of a player incapable of handling the demands of a club of United's size.

"They have to find somebody," Lukaku told Josh Hart's Podcast, recorded prior to his Inter move. "It is Pogba, it is me or it is Alexis. It's the three of us all the time.

"They have got to find somebody to blame. I put my hand up, like, this year I don't think I was the only one playing bad. A lot of people were playing bad but they had to find the culprit."

In just a small soundbite, Lukaku raised a wall not only between himself and the support, but also the majority of his now former teammates. He's the one always to blame. He's the martyr. Oh, along with Paul Pogba and Alexis Sanchez. The Belgian basically dividing the dressing room between the self-sacrificed three and the rest of the squad.

Again, this isn't going to wash in Italy. If after two seasons as a Manchester United player Lukaku is still letting his critics be front of mind, you almost fear for him when things go awry as an Inter player.

And they will. Strikers have scoring droughts - even the very best. Lukaku will be no different. And in a league that focuses so much more on the technical, rather than the physical, Lukaku's game is going to be pulled apart like never before.

That heavy first touch. That weak right foot. It'll come under the microscope. Not to mention the tactical side. His running off the ball. His positional play. It's all going to be surgically dissected. And not by your above average ex-pro like Gary Neville or Jamie Carragher, but by giants of the game. Titans like Arrigo Sacchi and Fabio Capello. The intensity of the Italian football media is unlike anything in the world - just ask Jose Mourinho.

His technique. His tactical nous. This is all just the basics. Lukaku will have to show he's not only worth the £75m Inter shelled out for him - he'll also have to face down comparisons with Mauro Icardi. The man he's essentially been signed to replace. Sacked as captain. Petitioned by fans to be sold - something Lukaku never experienced in all his years as a Premier League pro. But for all his antics, the talent of Icardi remains unquestioned. Indeed, he still has his allies at Inter - including the former president. Massimo Moratti recently encapsulating what many, even the most begrudging, concede when considering the whole Icardi affair.

"I don't know what's happening with Icardi. Obviously, Icardi is a better striker than Lukaku," declared Moratti. “I know Icardi, he's a very good lad and has always been a professional. You can't just invent stuff about his wife."

On the surface, there's a lot of goodwill. And it's justified. Inter have underlined their ambitions. They've backed their new coach and spent record money to bring Antonio Conte's No1 target to the club. The support are excited - elated - as we saw on that first morning for Lukaku on Premier League deadline day.

It can work. As Lukaku has proved with Belgium. If he plays for a manager who knows and appreciates him, things can click. There's no question Lukaku has played his best football under Roberto Martinez - both for Everton and his country.

And as he stated in that podcast, Lukaku did have to work hard to win over many Belgium fans. Indeed, it's taken years. But he does have the majority of them onside now.

However, the Nerrazzuri isn't Belgium. And Conte isn't Martinez. With a £75m outlay comes expectations - particularly at a club the size of Inter. In Lukaku they expect their line to be led by a big club player with a big club mentality.

And for Lukaku, the one way to meet such demands is to stop with the self-pitying, woe-is-me stuff which was heard from that podcast this week.

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Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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