'Untouchable' Romelu Lukaku should be immune to criticism from Man United fans - Jose Mourinho
Jose Mourinho says Romelu Lukaku should be immune from any criticism following the start to his Manchester United career, branding him ‘untouchable’.
Mourinho accused United fans of not being supportive enough of the £75 million striker, and ahead of his side’s Champions League meeting with Benfica said judgement should not be based solely on goal return.
“The fans are the fans. They pay for their ticket and are free to express how they want to express but my job is to protect my players when they deserve it,” said Mourinho.
“Romelu is one of the players who should be untouchable in terms of respect from everyone.
"It’s not one goal or the ball going against the post or a save by the opposition keeper that can make Romelu’s contribution below the top level. He is playing extremely well for us.
“I need to protect my players when I feel they deserve it most. What he does for the team is fantastic. It is not just about scoring goals. He is untouchable in my team and I feel he should be untouchable with the fans. I repeat fans can do what they want, but I repeat I feel it is my duty to defend my players when I feel they deserve it.”
Mourinho said Lukaku’s contribution extends beyond his 11 goals since his summer move from Everton. He has not scored in his last five games, but has made some key assists.
“I don’t think he is quiet at all,” said Mourinho.
“Ask Alderweireld, Vertonghen and Dier if he was quiet. They are some of the best central defenders in football. The point is scoring or not scoring – in the end that is what people analyse. But he is not quiet at all.”
A win over the Portuguese could secure United’s qualification into the last 16.
“Our aim tomorrow is to qualify,” said Mourinho.
“Our main aim is to finish first in the group.”