LONDON (Reuters) - Wayne Rooney knows it already and Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba have been warned by manager Jose Mourinho that no player is “untouchable” at Manchester United.
During Mourinho’s trophy-laden first spell at Chelsea from 2004-07 the likes of Frank Lampard, John Terry, Didier Drogba and Claude Makelele became almost undroppable.
Times have changed, however, and Mourinho says no one in the United dressing room can assume such status.
Speaking ahead of United’s home Europa League clash with Turkish side Fenerbahce on Thursday, Mourinho said the only untouchable presence in the United dressing room cost not a single penny.
“Untouchable now has to be the team spirit and the commitment and pride, the commitment to the club, respect to the fans, that has to be untouchable not players,” Mourinho told reporters on Wednesday.
Club skipper Rooney has not started for nearly a month while world record signing Pogba is yet to hit his stride.
Ibrahimovic has started all of United’s eight Premier League games so far, as have keeper David De Gea, defender Eric Bailly and winger Antonio Valencia.
But even they are not automatic picks, said Mourinho.
“(At Chelsea) that was 11 years ago. It’s a different Premier league, different situation, (Chelsea) were the best team by far, that’s a different story,” Mourinho said.
However, Mourinho was full of praise for Ibrahimovic despite the Swede having scored only once since early September.
“It’s quite beautiful to meet him five or six years later and find the same ambition, passion and desire to play and to compete,” Mourinho said of the man he managed at Inter Milan.
“I could not be happier with his influence in the dressing room.”
Mourinho also praised Rooney’s response to being benched saying he was helping create a positive atmosphere in the squad.
He would not say whether he would start against Fenerbahce though.
“Wayne is working well, he is a good example, so we count on him to start or be on the bench. He will be there tomorrow,” Mourinho said.
Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Toby Davis