Romelu Lukaku has defended Jose Mourinho against criticism suggesting the Manchester United manager is too tough with his players.
Lukaku hit a brace as United bounced back to winning ways at Burnley before the international break, but Mourinho’s men are six points off the top of the Premier League table following defeats to Tottenham and Brighton and Hove Albion.
Mourinho has been forced to deny a rift with star midfielder Paul Pogba, while his handling of Luke Shaw last season raised eyebrows, although the left-back has since earned an England recall.
And Lukaku feels Mourinho’s approach with players is the right one to take as United seek to launch a title challenge having finished 19 points behind neighbours Manchester City last term.
“People know a side from him which is he’s a winner,” Lukaku told BBC Sport. “But what I like about him is he’s not going to fake his emotions. When he’s mad, you know he is mad. When he’s happy, you see he is happy.
“I don’t understand why people don’t like the realness about him. When he’s mad at me I know he is mad at me, and I try to do what he wants so he is happy again.
“Sometimes footballers, we get soft a little bit. If I listen to players from back in the day and now, a manager cannot say what he wants to a player because you feel attacked.
“But I don’t feel attacked, because that’s who I am – I am a tough man, but that doesn’t come from football, that comes from my background.
“My relationship with him is cool. He makes me laugh, he makes the players laugh, he’s a real family guy. He fights for his players, but he’s real. When you’re not happy, you don’t need to fake your emotions.
“People need to appreciate that, at least there are people who are real in this world like him. Because most of the managers in the league, when they are not happy they try to find a way to seem happy.
“You should respect that he wants to keep his own personality and not shy away from confrontation. Here, he really wants us to improve. He is a normal guy, we get along well. He is cool with everybody.”
Lukaku struck 18 Premier League goals in his first United season after signing from Everton, while he helped Belgium to reach the semi-finals of the World Cup with four goals at Russia 2018.
But the striker continues to strive for improvement despite racking up 104 Premier League goals at the age of 25.
“I try to look at as many games as I can from the season before, the mistakes I have done and the points I can improve on,” Lukaku added. “In the first week, we come in and analyse what I want to work on throughout the season.
“The reason I score more and more goals, season after season, is I know my mistakes from the past, I know my strengths and I work on my strengths, but the little points I want to get better and it’s constant.
“Football is what, 15 years? I want to invest 100% of my life into the game, so when it’s all said and done, I don’t want to have regrets.”