Romelu Lukaku might not have good memories of the Super Cup.
On as a substitute for Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea in extra time against Bayern Munich in Prague in August 2013, it was the Belgian who missed the decisive penalty in the shootout. Two days later he was loaned to Everton.
That penalty, saved by Manuel Neuer, was supposed to be the moment Mourinho lost faith.
Although Mourinho would later explain it was Lukaku’s decision to go, suggesting the striker wanted to be first-choice rather than fight for his place at Stamford Bridge.
Lukaku agreed “I was 20 and I wasn’t ready to be immediately effective in a top team.”
United face European champions Real Madrid in Macedonia looking to kick-start the new campaign with another trophy after collecting the Community Shield, EFL Cup and Europa League last season.
It is also a chance for Lukaku to start answering some of the questions raised since he became the sixth most expensive footballer ever. His ability to score goals is not in doubt. He has already scored 85 Premier League goals, 25 of them last season. He reached 20 goals in all competitions in each of his last three seasons.
Mourinho has already identified the Super Cup against Real as the start of United’s season. Ferguson would often rotate his squad for the Super Cup and United lost to Lazio in 1999 and Zenit St Petersburg in 2008.
Mourinho has never won it, losing to Milan with Porto in 2003 and to Bayern with Chelsea 10 years later.
“It’s a trophy,” he said in 2013. “It’s a cup, a cup with prestige. It is a cup that every club would like to add to their room.”
Mourinho is set to pick his best available team to meet Real in the Philip II Arena in Skopje, although both Phil Jones and Eric Bailly are suspended.
It means Lukaku is set to start his first competitive game for United. With it he will get the chance to silence some of the doubters against Europe’s best team and banish those Super Cup memories.