Fans' treatment of Romelu Lukaku is unfair, says United boss Jose Mourinho

Jose Mourinho says he still has "no idea" when Paul Pogba will be back in the Manchester United team, having now been out for over six weeks with a hamstring injury. It's not one ball or goal that hits the post or one save from the opposition goalkeeper that can make Romelu's contribution below the top level.

Mourinho rejected the suggestion that Lukaku can be a quiet presence when he is not scoring goals, arguing that the striker gave Tottenham's Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen and Eric Dier a tough time on Saturday. Romelu is one of the players that should be untouchable in terms of the respect of everyone.

The BBC pundit, writing in his online Team of the Week, suggested the United boss is afraid to start Martial, Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford in the same starting XI.

"He is playing extremely well for us and yes I have to protect my players when I feel they deserve it.

But, as I said, the supporters pay for their tickets so [they are free to do as they want]".

After scoring seven goals in as many league games, Lukaku has not scored in the following three matches and his fading goal scoring exploits, along with his underwhelming record in big games has been criticised.

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"They pay the ticket, they can do what they want", Mourinho said.

United welcome Benfica in Tuesday's fourth Champions League Group A match as leaders with maximum points.

"I don't think it is fair at all". If United win they are guaranteed qualification for the knockout stage.

"Whether he's scoring goals or not scoring goals is all that some people analyse". "We played in the Europa League and won it, so my team are now playing in the Champions League".

The Red Devils' Premier League matchup with Chelsea this Sunday was subsequently earmarked by media sources as a possible return date for Pogba, but manager Jose Mourinho has since revealed that no timetable has yet been set for his reintroduction at Old Trafford.

  • Lawrence Cooper