Romelu Lukaku faces huge step up at Manchester United, says Michael Carrick

• New captain says forward must adjust quickly to scrutiny at Old Trafford
• ‘Winning the league has got to be this season’s aim. We have to challenge’

Romelu Lukaku faces a challenge to adjust to the demands of playing for Manchester United, according to the club’s new captain, Michael Carrick.

Carrick moved to Old Trafford from Tottenham Hotspur in 2006 and is now the club’s longest-serving player following Wayne Rooney’s departure to Everton. Lukaku, meanwhile, played his first game for United in a 5-2 win against LA Galaxy in Carson City on Saturday, the opening game of a five-match pre-season tour.

Lukaku, who joined from Everton for £75m, failed to score but appeared to settle instantly – though Carrick was quick to emphasise the pressure that comes with playing for the 20-times English champions.

“The jump is massive,” Carrick said. “I found that myself coming from Tottenham. It’s a massive jump. You can’t really explain to people until they’ve gone through it. I’m sure he’ll find the same. But having Premier League experience is a massive bonus. He’ll know how things work week to week. It’s just about dealing with the pressure.

“It’s early days. It’s one week’s training and 45 minutes against Galaxy so you can’t come to any conclusions. We know what he is all about, there are no surprises. We all know exactly what he brings and that is why he is here. He is not going to change his game because he has come here. He does what he does best and obviously he’s been brought here to score goals. I am pretty certain he will do that this season.”

Lukaku has 85 Premier League goals since 2012, second only to Sergio Agüero, and is the main replacement for Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who scored 28 goals for United last season.

Carrick was reluctant to draw parallels between the two players. “Ibra was terrific for us but Rom is his own man. When I came it was Roy Keane who came up [in comparison] but I’m my own man. Whoever comes in, you’re always your own man. I don’t want to compare them at all because it’s not fair to do that.

“He’ll be judged like anyone else: on what he does through the season and I’m sure he’s ready for that. The scrutiny will go up a level from what he’s used to. I’m sure he’s prepared for that and I’m sure he will do well.”

Carrick is adamant United have to challenge for the league title next term. “We’ve got to feel that. It’s up to the manager whether more players come in or whether they don’t. That’s not for us to worry about. That’s got to be the aim. We have to challenge the best and be the best. It has to be that philosophy at this club no matter what happens, this season is no different. We finished last season with a trophy. We’ve got a good feeling going into this one. We’ve got the Super Cup coming up pretty quick, so we’ve got to be focused on that really and then the season ahead.”

The United goalkeeper Sergio Romero has signed a contract extension until 2021. The Argentina international, 30, joined United on a free transfer in 2015 and started May’s Europa League final victory over Ajax ahead of David de Gea.The United squad fly to Utah on Tuesday, where they will play Real Salt Lake.

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