Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku should be “untouchable” from fans’ criticism, says manager Jose Mourinho.
The £75m summer signing from Everton, 24, scored 11 goals in his first 10 games – but none in his last five.
“What he does for the team is fantastic and to play football for a striker is not just about scoring goals,” said the Manchester United boss.
“I think Romelu is one of the players who should be untouchable in terms of respect from everyone.”
The Belgium forward, who Mourinho sold while Chelsea manager, drew his fifth blank in a row against Tottenham on Saturday – but did set up Anthony Martial’s winner.
After that game Mourinho was not happy with a perceived lack of support for Lukaku from the Old Trafford crowd.
“For me, he is untouchable in my team and I think he should be untouchable in the support and the respect he deserves from the fans,” Lukaku’s manager added.
United host Benfica on Tuesday in the Champions League knowing a win could take them into the knockout stages if CSKA Moscow fail to beat Basel.