Jose Mourinho insists the likes of Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic are not viewed as “untouchable” players at Manchester United and can be dropped like anyone else.
There have been questions of late over the performances of midfielder Pogba and striker Ibrahimovic, United’s two most high-profile summer signings.
Red Devils boss Mourinho in 2006 suggested certain players he had at Chelsea were virtually immune from being dropped by labelling them “untouchable”.
And he was asked ahead of Thursday’s Europa League clash with Fenerbahce if he has players at United he would describe in the same way – with Pogba and Ibrahimovic’s names being put to him specifically.
Mourinho replied: “No. That was a different Premier League and situation – it was the best team by far. It was a different story.
“Not untouchable. Untouchable in our team has to be the spirit, the pride, the commitment to the club, the respect to the fans – that has to be untouchable, not players.”
United captain Wayne Rooney has lost his place in the team, with the last four games having seen him only used as a substitute.
And Mourinho has refused to confirm whether Rooney will be returning to the starting line-up in Thursday’s Group A match at Old Trafford.
“I don’t want to give you the team, honestly,” Mourinho said.
“Wayne is working well – he’s one of the big responsible people for the atmosphere that the players can breathe because he’s positive and a good example.
“We count on him, to start or be on the bench. He will be there.”
United, who extended their unbeaten run to five matches with Monday’s 0-0 Premier League draw at Liverpool and on Sunday face Chelsea away, are third in their Europa League group. They have three points from two pool games, a point less than leaders Fenerbahce.
Mourinho on Zlatan
Mourinho stated he is satisfied with the impact of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, despite him going four Premier League games without a goal, and scoring just one in seven in all competitions.
“He is giving us exactly what we need and expected from him,” Mourinho added.
“It’s quite beautiful for me to meet him five or six years later and to find the same ambition, passion and desire to play and compete. He’s really fit and always ready to play.”
Shaw on Pogba
“From the last couple of years you’ve seen the quality he has. He was named in the World XI last year for a reason,” Shaw said.
“I believe he’s one of the best midfielders in the world. For different players it takes time to adapt. He’s still adapting but he’s doing good for the team.
“He’s staying strong. We can all see the ability that he’s got in training. Game by game he’s getting stronger fitness-wise.
“You saw glimpses of his quality against Liverpool with his touch and cross for Ibra.
“In the changing room he’s a very nice guy and he’s a good leader as well.”