Jose Mourinho has said Manchester United do not have “untouchables” in their team, unlike the situation when he was first at Chelsea.
Summer signings Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba failed to fire in a cautious United performance on Monday night as they drew 0-0 at Liverpool.
When asked in a news conference ahead of Thursday’s Europa League clash with Fenerbahce if such players are “untouchables” who would always be picked, as was the situation with several key stars during his initial stint at Chelsea, Mourinho responded: “No.
“That was 11 years ago — a different Premier League and situation. We were the best team by far.
“‘Untouchable’ in our team has to be the spirit, the commitment, the pride, the commitment to the club, respect to the fans. That has to be untouchable, not the players.”
Despite Ibrahimovic missing an excellent chance at Anfield when he misdirected a header, Mourinho stressed that he was very satisfied with the way the 35-year-old Swede has started the season.
“I am really happy,” Mourinho said. “He is giving us exactly what we need from him, what we expect from him.”
United had a full complement of first-team players in training on Wednesday morning, aside from the injured Phil Jones and regular absentee Bastian Schweinsteiger. Fringe goalkeeper Sam Johnstone was also missing, having played for the under-23s against Liverpool on Tuesday night.
Anthony Martial and Morgan Schneiderlin were back in training after missing the trip to Anfield with fitness concerns. Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who has been recovering from a thigh problem, also trained again.
Discussing Mkhitaryan, Mourinho said: “He is not injured anymore and is training without any limitations. I cannot confirm if he will play tomorrow [against Fenerbahce], but he is fit and it is time for him to go back to the levels we know he can achieve.”
When asked how strong a team he will select for Thursday’s game at Old Trafford, Mourinho said: “Tomorrow, we will play with a team that has a chance to win and, if we play with a team that is not good or strong, we don’t have a chance.
“We have to play with a good team, knowing that two days’ later we have to play in the Premier League [against Chelsea].”