Romelu Lukaku amongst Man Utd stars checking in at Lowry

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Jose Mourinho gathered his Manchester United squad for a pre-match stopover at the Lowry Hotel ahead of their clash with Benfica on Tuesday.

The United stars, including the under-fire Romelu Lukaku – whose five-game scoring drought Mourinho was forced to defend in the build-up to the Champions League clash – were pictured arriving at the club’s favoured hotel on the eve of their meeting with the Portuguese outfit.

The likes of Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Marcus Rashford also delighting fans waiting outside the city centre hotel by waving for their cameras.

Star striker Romelu Lukaku was also pictured arriving at the Lowry ahead of Tuesday's game

Star striker Romelu Lukaku was also pictured arriving at the Lowry ahead of Tuesday’s game

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho makes his way into the Lowry Hotel on Monday

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho makes his way into the Lowry Hotel on Monday

Eric Bailly, who returned to the United side on Saturday, checks in at the city centre hotel

Eric Bailly, who returned to the United side on Saturday, checks in at the city centre hotel

Ander Herrera smiles for a selfie as the United players get together before playing Benfica

Ander Herrera smiles for a selfie as the United players get together before playing Benfica

United fans straddle the barrier to get a picture of Marcus Rashford as he arrives at the hotel

United No 1 goalkeeper David de Gea packed lightly for his overnight stay at the Lowry

United No 1 goalkeeper David de Gea packed lightly for his overnight stay at the Lowry

Nemanja Matic was is no mood to hang around as he made his way from the car to the entrance

Nemanja Matic was is no mood to hang around as he made his way from the car to the entrance

The Old Trafford fans let their feelings be known regarding Lukaku’s performance against Tottenham on Saturday when Mourinho replaced Rashford with Anthony Martial, booing to indicate they thought the Belgian should have been withdrawn.

Mourinho admitted that the fans have a right to express themselves, but insisted that he also has an obligation to protect his players – particularly when they are as important to the team as Lukaku.

Speaking ahead of the Benfica game at Old Trafford, Mourinho said: ‘The fans are the fans and I also told that the fans pay for their tickets and are free to express themselves the way they want to express. But my job is when I feel they deserve it to protect my players.

‘I think Romelu is one of the players that should be untouchable in terms of the respect of everyone. It’s not one goal or the ball goes against the post or a save by the opposition keeper that can make Romelu’s contribution below the top level.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan hauls his luggage up the stairs outside the Manchester city centre hotel

Henrikh Mkhitaryan hauls his luggage up the stairs outside the Manchester city centre hotel

Juan Mata stopped to talk to United supporters and autograph hunters outside the hotel

Juan Mata stopped to talk to United supporters and autograph hunters outside the hotel

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

‘And Romelu always deserves it because what he does for the team is fantastic. Playing football for a striker isn’t just about scoring goals.

‘So, for me, untouchable in my team and I think he should be untouchable in the support from the fans.

‘But the fans are the fans, they pay the ticket and do what they want. As a manager I feel a duty to protect my players when I feel they deserve it.’

Jesse Lingard bounds up the steps outside the hotel ahead of the squad's overnight stay

Jesse Lingard bounds up the steps outside the hotel ahead of the squad’s overnight stay

Another familiar face, Victor Lindelof, greets staff waiting outside the Lowry on Monday night

Another familiar face, Victor Lindelof, greets staff waiting outside the Lowry on Monday night