Jose Mourinho says Manchester United's players are not untouchable
By Nick Lustig
Last Updated: 20/10/16 8:40am
Jose Mourinho insists no player at Manchester United is "untouchable" and refused to confirm whether captain Wayne Rooney would return to the starting line-up against Fenerbahce.
Mourinho has used the term in the past, including for his 2005/06 Chelsea title-winning side, to describe a select group of players that cannot be dropped because of the level of their performances.
But ahead of Thursday's Europa League tie at Old Trafford, the United manager said: "That was 11 years ago - different Premiership, different situation.
"I think untouchable in our team has to be the spirit, the commitment, the pride, the respect to the fans. That has to be untouchable, but not players."
Rooney has endured a difficult start to the season and has been left on the substitutes' bench for the previous four matches by Mourinho.
The 30-year-old England captain's last start for United came in the 3-1 EFL Cup victory over Northampton in September but he has expressed his desire to prove his worth under Mourinho.
Mourinho insisted Rooney can still be a big influence at United, even if that meant he started from the substitutes' bench once again.
When asked whether Rooney would start against Fenerbahce Mourinho said: "I don't want to give you the team, honestly.
Emergency landing for Fenerbahce
A bird forced the plane carrying the Fenerbahce first-team squad to make an emergency landing
"Wayne is working well. He's one of the big responsibilities for the atmosphere that 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."
United stretched their unbeaten run to five matches with a goalless draw at Liverpool on Monday Night Football, but drew criticism from some sources for a perceived negative approach at Anfield.
Mourinho admitted the result on Merseyside was not what he wanted but felt the scoreline was a reflection of a strong defensive performance and the growing belief within the United ranks.
"We are in a period now with five matches unbeaten," he added. "The players are fine. I don't think it's especially because of this match, I think it's because of the atmosphere we have, the belief we have.
"We know the process, we know the difficulties."
Mourinho confirmed defender Luke Shaw would make his first start for United against Fenerbahce since suffering a groin problem in the 3-1 defeat at Watford in September.