Jose Mourinho has explained his decision for leaving out Armenian playmaker Henrikh Mkhitayran, simply clarifying that there is not enough room in the squad for the 28 year old.
Mkhitaryan enjoyed an excellent start to the season and was extremely influential in United’s early dominance creating five assists, as United began with a series of convincing displays. However, Mkhitaryan has not been in 7 out of the last 8 Premier League matchday squads, with his last appearance coming in United’s unconvincing 1-0 win over Brighton on November 25. Since his blistering start to the campaign, the Armenian has struggled to show the same form, often going ‘missing’ in big games as United lacked attacking threats in important away games such as Liverpool and Chelsea in which they could not muster a goal. The emergence in form of Jesse Lingard has seemingly pushed Mkhitaryan out of United’s squad. The Warrington born attacker has taken his opportunity with a stunning solo goal at Watford followed by 2 goals in a 3-1 away victory at Arsenal. United fans have been impressed at Lingard’s desire and hard work, but also quality in his final product which has previously deserted him.
Here’s what the United manager said when questioned about Mkhitaryan:
“I can only have six [outfield] players on the bench and I try to have some balance on the bench,”
“I played Martial, Mata and Lingard in the team. To have Micki (Mkhitaryan) means that I don’t have one of them and, in this moment, I believe the other ones they deserve [the chance to play].”
This is not the first time Mkhitaryan has fallen out of favour with Jose Mourinho having been pulled off in United’s derby defeat to Man City last season. After his abject performance, the playmaker would not be seen for months in a United shirt. With United now boasting Juan Mata, Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard, Anthony Martial and Ashley Young in attacking areas, it is difficult to see where Mkhitaryan can get back into the team. Whether this is another tactic deployed by Mourinho to get the former Bundesliga player of the year back to his best remains to be seen; although there have been murmurs of a potential January or summer exit. United have been heavily linked with Athletico’s Antoine Griezmann, who could be allowed to leave in the summer. They have more recently been linked with Joao Mario of Inter, a compatriot of Mourinho. Both act as attacking options who could push Mkhitaryan out of the club.