Jose Mourinho insists Romelu Lukaku should be 'untouchable' to Manchester United fans
By James Dale
Last Updated: 30/10/17 10:59pm
Jose Mourinho says Romelu Lukaku should be "untouchable" to criticism from Manchester United fans.
Lukaku has not scored in United's last five games and was the subject of groans from supporters at Old Trafford on Saturday as Mourinho's side initially struggled to break down Tottenham, before Lukaku's flick-on allowed Anthony Martial to seal a 1-0 win.
Mourinho said he was "disappointed" by fans' treatment of Lukaku after the game and has now insisted the striker has earned the right to demand respect from the United crowd.
The United manager last year said none of his players were "untouchable", but has bestowed the tag on summer signing Lukaku.
"The fans paid their ticket, they are free to express themselves the way they want to express," Mourinho said ahead of Manchester United's Champions League match against Benfica on Tuesday.
"But my job is to protect my players and I think Romelu is one of the players that should be untouchable in terms of the respect from everyone.
"It's not one goal or one ball that hit the post that can make Romelu's contribution below the top level, he's playing extremely well for us and I have to protect my players when I feel they deserve it.
"Romelu always deserves it because what he does for the team is fantastic, and playing football for a striker is not just about scoring goals. So, untouchable in my team and also in the support and respect he deserves from the fans."
Mourinho urged Lukaku doubters to ask Tottenham's defence if the Belgium international is "quiet".
"I don't think Lukaku is quiet at all," said Mourinho. "[Jan] Vertonghen and [Eric] Dier are some of the best central defenders in football."
United face Mourinho's former club Chelsea on Sunday, live on Sky Sports Premier League, with Antonio Conte's side just four points behind them in the top flight.
Despite three wins from three in their Champions League campaign, Mourinho indicated he will not be looking to rest any players in European competition and that his side are intent on finishing as Group A winners.
Mourinho revealed he has no fresh injury concerns following the win over Tottenham, and expects to have the same squad available against Benfica. Michael Carrick trained separately from the group on Monday.
"Our aim tomorrow is to qualify," said Mourinho. "Ten points would be OK to qualify but our main aim is to finish first in the group.
"We know the stats are what they are but Basel has good results against CSKA Moscow and Benfica.
"Benfica will give us a difficult match. They have their own ambition and pride and they will try to win, we just want to get to the last 16 by finishing first in the group."
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