Jose Mourinho sat down with the media ahead of the UEFA Europa League clash with Turkish giants Fenerbahce at Old Trafford on Thursday evening. United sit in third place in their group after two matches, a defeat to Feyenoord and a win over Zorya Luhansk. United will need to beat Fenerbahce in order to better their position in the group, with Feyenoord expected to beat the Ukrainian side, cementing their lead in the group. Fenerbahce currently tops the group with four points after a win and a draw in their first two matches. United were in action on Monday night, not giving a lot of rest between matches, but Mourinho will be expected to rotate his side considerably, especially with Chelsea on the horizon on Sunday, which will be another big match, especially after the draw at Anfield on Monday evening, which saw United frustrate the home side, taking an important point back to Old Trafford. Here are the main points from the press conference.
Jose Mourinho on the 0-0 draw with Liverpool at Anfield on Monday night:
“We didn’t get the result we wanted. We wanted to win and we only got a point so we were not 100% successful and I think you are very fair with Liverpool because Liverpool had a fantastic defensive performance.
“For the first time they played with two defensive midfielders and took a striker off to play another midfielder. The 0-0 result was because two teams were very good defensively.”
Mourinho on Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who has been injured in recent weeks and is now fit:
“Mkhitaryan was injured, he is not injured any more and is training without any limitations.
“I cannot confirm if he will play tomorrow but he is fit and it is time for him to go back to the levels we know he can achieve.”
Mourinho on Manchester United’s unbeaten run:
“We are in a period now with five matches unbeaten. 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, we know where we are, the championship where we are and the opposition we have.”
Mourinho on Zlatan Ibrahimovic:
“I am really happy. He is giving us exactly what we need from him, what we expect from him.
“He is fit and always ready to play. The young guys look up to him and that’s great because he can only influence them positively.”
Mourinho not taking much notice of Fenerbahce’s start in the Süper Lig this season:
“They will be where they have to be at the end of the season. The Turkish league is getting better and better, with teams outside Istanbul coming through, but Fenerbahce will be where they need to be. I look to the manager and I see experience, I look to the players and I see quality.”
Mourinho on the strong team needed to get the result needed for Manchester United:
“Tomorrow we will play with a team that has a chance to win and if we do not 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. I don’t want to give you the team. The only one who plays is Luke Shaw who is coming here after.”
Mourinho on Marcus Rashford playing for England U21’s next summer:
“The reports didn’t arrive at my office! So we don’t know.
“We are in mid-October. The Championships would be in the summer and we will wait and see what happens. If the player becomes a regular in the senior national team, development in the U21’s makes no sense.
“If he is an U21 player then he is an U21 player and there is no discussion. If he becomes a regular choice for [Gareth] Southgate then we have to speak.”
Mourinho on Fenerbahce:
“It’s a big team and a difficult opponent. Tomorrow we are going to play with a team that has chances to win and if we play with a team that is not good and strong, we don’t have a chance. To have a chance, we have to play with a good team, knowing that two days later we have to play in the Premier League.”
Mourinho on ‘untouchable’ players whilst he was at Chelsea:
“That was 11 years ago, a different Premier League and situation. 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.”
Luke Shaw on his fitness:
“I had a problem with my groin from the Watford game but now I’m feeling good and ready for the game. It’s been good to rest the groin but I want to play every game and hate missing matches. I’m back now and ready to fight for my place.”
Shaw on criticism from Mourinho after the Watford defeat:
“I have said before, I’m a grown man and take what the manager said. I’m still young and need to take on board what he says and improve. I was disappointed with the result but not what the manager said.”
Shaw on Zlatan Ibrahimovic:
“When I came in there was a few big leaders that left. But if you look at the squad we have some experienced ones as well as younger players like myself. Ibra brings a lot to the dressing room. He tells so many jokes and everyone wants to listen. It’s good for squad morale. I think it’s starting to show on the pitch that we are more together now as a team.”
Shaw on his attacking instincts:
“Our main priority is to defend. Like against Watford, I can push forward and we get exposed on the counter attack. I love to attack but our job is to prevent goals, the attackers have to score them.”
Shaw on Manchester United getting better:
“Right now we’re at the stage of getting better, but I think there’s so much more to come from everyone in the dressing room.”
Shaw on Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba:
“I was excited for them to come into the squad. The experience they bring is unbelievable. When someone comes into the team everyone welcomes them and it is professional – like any normal signing. We know what they bring and they have come to win trophies.”
Shaw on Robin van Persie, who will return to Old Trafford on Thursday:
“He definitely is a threat and we know his qualities. Sometimes, even though you know what players can do, it’s hard to stop. I saw what he could do in training and games here. We’re wary of him but we’re focused on their whole team.”
Manchester United will be up for the challenge of Fenerbahce on Thursday night at Old Trafford. The return of Robin van Persie will be a big threat, as United know what he is capable of, despite only scoring once this season. Jose Mourinho has stated that none of his players are undroppable, which suggests that like Wayne Rooney, the likes of Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic could have the axe wielded at any time, which may keep them on their toes and bring out their best form. I am sure the media will conspire to suggest such things will be done and the players will not be happy, but I am sure that will be different, should it happen.