The weight is (finally) over as trimmed-down Romelu Lukaku is back among the goals

The Belgium forward bulked up as he helped his country to a third-placed finish in Russia.

But back at Carrington and during the early months of the Premier League season, things got heavy for the £75million man.

He felt tired after his efforts for his country and realised he was carrying too much ‘muscle’ to be effective for United.

Boss Jose Mourinho left him on the bench for the midweek clash with Arsenal — but he got exactly the right response here.

Lukaku looks half the man he used to be, but in this case it is no bad thing.

The 25-year-old scored one and had a hand in another as United put a difficult period behind them in some style.

Asked if he had bulked up out in Russia, Lukaku smiled: “A little bit of muscle, yeah.

“It was at the World Cup. I just felt great and I think I played great over there, and then when I came back it is a different type of game.

“In the Premier League, I cannot play with the same amount of muscle as international football.

“That was something that when I came back I knew straightaway ‘Nah, nah, I cannot play in this style like this’.

“I had to lose muscle. So you just stay out of the gym, drink a lot of water, and eat a lot of veg and fish and it helps.”

Maybe the extra weight he was carrying early in the season also contributed to some lacklustre displays.

He added: “After the World Cup, I was a bit tired.

“But, I had the same thing in 2014 after the World Cup when I went back to Everton. I was really in a slump after the World Cup.


"So, now I think I am at a decent level again and ready to go.”

Lukaku had managed just five United goals for the season before Saturday — and he revealed a heart-to-heart with boss Mourinho last week helped.

He added: “Me and the manager had good conversations in the last couple of days, where really he told me what he wanted from me.

“And I know from my side I have to do better, and I just keep looking forward and improving, trying to add to my game and help the team win.

“I was playing with not enough aggression, I think, not enough intensity. But against Fulham, I think I played with intensity like everybody else did.

“For me, I was happy to play at a decent level again and now it’s all about improving and continuing on a consistent basis.”

This was certainly more like Lukaku — although scoring goals against the Premier League’s lesser lights has generally come easily for him.

Fulham provided the perfect opportunity for him and United to get back on track. Stiffer tests undoubtedly lie ahead — notably at Liverpool on Sunday — but Mourinho’s men must be credited for their impressive first-half show.

Skipper Ashley Young gave them the early goal they needed with a screamer from a narrow angle after just 13 minutes.

Lukaku and the lively Marcus Rashford teed up Juan Mata to steer home a second and put United in complete control before the half hour.


And the game was effectively over before the break when Mata squared for Lukaku to tap home from close range.

Cottagers boss Claudio Ranieri managed to get his team organised at the break.


And they pulled a goal back when Aboubakar Kamara won and converted a dubious penalty after United midfielder Ander Herrera was harshly adjudged to have fouled him.

But Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa picked up a second yellow card moments later and any chance of a comeback evaporated.

Rashford got the goal he deserved when his vicious strike from a narrow angle seemed to take Fulham keeper Sergio Rico by surprise.

And that meant United had their biggest Premier League win of the season so far — and a first victory in five matches.


Quite what £89m record-signing Paul Pogba made of it — sat on the bench as an unused sub — is anyone’s guess.

But Lukaku’s response to being dropped would have given the Frenchman something to think about as he prepares to face Valencia on Wednesday.

Nobody at Old Trafford will be getting carried away.

They remain eight points outside the top four and will not meet many more obliging opponents than Fulham in the first half here.


But at least this is a start — and something to build on.

Lukaku added: “It has been a long time since we scored four goals and we enjoyed our football against Fulham.

“I think Fulham didn’t have one shot in the first half, so we showed what we could do.

"Everybody was really happy with our performance, but we have to continue like that.

“We have got an important week, an important game against Valencia and hopefully we can play with the same intensity like we did today.”

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