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5 Questions with The Busby Babe

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We joined forces with SB Nation’s Manchester United blog to talk about this weekend’s match.

Everton v Manchester United - Premier League Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Many thanks to Brent from our fellow SB Nation blog The Busby Babe for taking the time to chat with us ahead of Everton’s away match against Manchester United this weekend.


RBM: How has Romelu Lukaku fit in so far, and are United fans taking to him?

TBB: Lukaku has fit into the team seamlessly, and the fans have taken an immediate liking to him. He has six goals in six games, and is already showing a budding understanding with the players around him in the team. He may lack the cult of personality of Zlatan Ibrahimovic (although Lukaku certainly isn't lacking for confidence) and some of the Swede's technical ability, but Lukaku's mobility and willingness to stretch defenses is helping the team play a much more expansive style than we did last season.

RBM: Is Rom better, worse, or about the same as you expected him to be?

TBB: For those United fans that had already rated Lukaku, they will feel they're being proven right. For others who may not have watched him closely at Everton, they're learning that he's a far more polished footballer than the lazy "big man up front" generalizations that have been used to describe him at times. There are still others that are waiting to be convinced that he can score against top opposition, but you can only beat what's in front of you, and he's definitely done that so far.

Manchester United v Everton - Premier League Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

RBM: What do you expect the reception to be for Wayne Rooney?

TBB: Rooney will get a hero's welcome. The crowd at Old Trafford didn't get to give him a proper send-off, so his name will likely be greeted with the loudest roars when the teams are announced pre-match. His first touch will be met with pantomime booing of course, but even that will just be friendly banter. Rooney was still popular with the home crowd even when he was (frequently) useless over the last few years. So now that he's returning as as an opposition player after leaving on amicable terms, most people will choose to celebrate him for the good times we had together. Fully expecting the bastard to score the equalizer/winner.

RBM: Paul Pogba's absence is enormous. Is there a plan in midfield or will Mourinho take it game by game?

TBB: There's no replacing Pogba. Fortunately, United have a manageable-looking run of games over the course of his expected absence. The personnel will differ for certain games, but I expect Mourinho to persist with the 4-2-3-1, and that Ander Herrera will be the most likely replacement in a straight swap. That said, your old mate Marouane Fellaini is in the best form of his United career, and it wouldn't be a big surprise to see him line up in Pogba's place instead.

RBM: Lastly, what differences have you seen in Mourinho's tenure so far in his second year?

TBB: The team is more settled, and playing with a clearer football identity. Key players like Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan have had a further year to settle. Key attackers Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford look to be emerging stronger after having mixed sophomore seasons. Phil Jones and Eric Bailly have started to form a solid partnership (at least until Jones' inevitably hurts himself or falls asleep on the pitch). The squad is stronger and more balanced, and Mourinho has stopped dressing like he's boarding a long haul flight while nursing a hangover.

BONUS QUESTION: Want to hire Everton's manager away from us again?

Give it Moyesy til the end of the season!