In the latest Manchester United news, former striker Andy Cole believes Romelu Lukaku has enjoyed a strong first season with United despite facing criticism.

The Belgian joined United over the summer in a £75million deal from Everton and kicked off his Old Trafford career with a bang, netting a brace in the 4-0 win over West Ham on the opening day.

Lukaku continued to hit the back of the net on a regular basis and had already notched 10 goals across all competitions by the end of September.

Jose Mourinho has placed complete faith in the frontman to lead the line on his own this term and he currently boasts 26 goals.

However, some onlookers have been critical of his performances after he failed to net in games against top-six teams in the Premier League.

The 24-year-old’s first goal against a Champions League-chasing side came in the 2-1 victory over Chelsea in February and he has found the net regularly since, bagging seven times in the last seven outings for club and country.

Cole, who was a key part of United’s famous treble-winning side of 1998-99, feels Lukaku has performed better than expected during his debut campaign.

“Lukaku has had a very good season,” Cole told MUTV. “I think it has probably been a lot tougher than he would have thought and now he appreciates that you can’t have a weekend off at Manchester United, which he could have done at his previous clubs Everton and West Bromwich Albion.

“Here, you can’t afford to do that. But he has played the majority of games and that says a lot about him. He has not been injured and, for his first season, I think he has been top drawer.”

United travel to Premier League leaders Manchester City on Saturday and Betway Sports price the Red Devils at 3/1 to win the derby at the Etihad.