Football: No 'untouchables' at Manchester United, says Jose Mourinho

From left to right, in foreground: Manchester United players Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard training ahead of today’s Europa League clash against Turkish side Fenerbahce.
From left to right, in foreground: Manchester United players Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard training ahead of today’s Europa League clash against Turkish side Fenerbahce. PHOTO: REUTERS

Mourinho reveals Shaw will face Fenerbahce today but no Red Devil is a guaranteed starter

LONDON • Jose Mourinho has stated that he would be prepared to drop Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic as Manchester United have no "untouchables", unlike the Chelsea team who claimed two English Premier League titles under him.

Instead, the United manager pointed to the collective qualities of the team as being "non-negotiable".

In December 2006, Mourinho named nine Chelsea footballers who were undroppable from his strongest XI.

Yet when asked if United also have untouchable players who might include midfielder Pogba and striker Ibrahimovic, he said: "That was years ago, a different Premier League and situation - it was 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 players."

Wayne Rooney, who was once an "untouchable", has lost his regular starting place and Mourinho refused to confirm if the captain will start against Fenerbahce in today's Europa League Group A game 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 so the players can breathe because he's positive, he's a good example.

"We count on him to start or be on the bench, but he will be there tomorrow.

"Sometimes I do (give hints on the starting line-up). This time, the only one I will say is Luke Shaw."

Defender Shaw, who has returned from injury and was at the pre-match press conference with Mourinho, said: "I'm feeling really good.

"Obviously I had a little bit of a problem in my groin from the game against Watford (last month).

"But I've trained for the last week and I'm training good and looking forward to getting back to playing."

Earlier yesterday, Fenerbahce's plane transporting them from Turkey for the clash in Manchester was forced to make an unscheduled landing in Budapest.

A message posted on the club's official Twitter page just before midday said a forced landing was made in the Hungarian capital after a bird struck the aircraft's windscreen.

The message was accompanied by photographs apparently of the plane's windscreen, with the glass covered in cracks.

"A Borajet 195/200 long-range type of aircraft, registration number TC/YAT, made a successful emergency landing here shortly after midday," Budapest airport's spokesman Mihaly Hardy told AFP.

"The Fenerbahce players were on board and are now safely waiting in the terminal building for another aircraft, on which they will continue their journey to England."

United replied to Fenerbahce with a tweet from their official account.

"Wishing you a safe trip for the rest of your journey to Manchester. See you soon!" the message read.

Former United striker Robin van Persie, now a Fenerbahce player, will be relieved that he is able to make his Old Trafford return.

"It will be a special occasion and a special game for me," said the 33-year-old.

"I know Manchester United want to be in the Champions League, but it is how it is now and for me it is a very special group in the Europa League.

"In the last match I had a game against one of my first teams, Feyenoord, and next it's United. I am looking forward to it."

THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

MANCHESTER UNITED V FENERBAHCE
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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 20, 2016, with the headline 'No United 'untouchables''. Print Edition | Subscribe