London (AFP) – Jose Mourinho has insisted the likes of high-profile Manchester United signings Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic are far from “untouchable” players.
Both midfielder Pogba, a world record £89 million ($115 million, 102 million euros) arrival from Juventus, and striker Ibrahimovic have had their recent performances called into question.
When he was Chelsea manager in 2006, Mourinho suggested several key players were “untouchable”, indicating they had no chance of being dropped regardless of their form.
Asked ahead of United’s Europa League clash at home to Fenerbahce on Thursday if the same situation applied at Old Trafford, 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,” the United manager added.
United captain Wayne Rooney has lost his place in the starting line-up, with the last four games seeing the veteran forward used as a substitute only.
Portuguese boss Mourinho refused to say if Rooney would start against Fenerbahce.
“I don’t want to give you the team, honestly,” he 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.”
Monday’s goalless draw away to bitter northwest rivals Liverpool extended United’s unbeaten run to five matches. They are third in their Europa League group, with three points from two pool games — a point less than leaders Fenerbahce.
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