Henrikh Mkhitaryan looking to improve for the new season

Manchester United attacking midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan has spoken about his second season at the Theatre of Dreams being the one where he would improve massively. The Armenian’s first season did not start all that well with the played being substituted in the Manchester derby at Old Trafford last September with United losing 2-1 to Manchester City. The player then suffered through injury, a lack of fitness and was criticised by Jose Mourinho for not playing to the best of his abilities. Mkhitaryan stood up and made himself counted rising from Mourinho’s challenge, becoming one of the best players during the second-half of the season.

Mkhitaryan was Mourinho’s third signing last summer after Eric Bailly, a £30 million arrival from Villarreal, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, a free agent signing after the expiry of his contract from Paris Saint-Germain and just before the £89 million world record signing of Paul Pogba, who returned to the Old Trafford club just over four years after he left on the expiry of his contract with the Italian club paying a nominal compensation payment because of the player’s age and his development in the United Academy. Mkhitaryan was a £26 million signing for Mourinho and his arrival excited many as United had the player they were looking for.

The Armenian captain played 41 times for United in all competitions last season, scoring 11 goals, six of those were in the UEFA Europa League with Mkhitaryan scoring in nearly every round of the competition last season, even grabbing the second goal in the final where United beat Ajax 2-0 at the Friends Arena in Stockholm, Sweden. United will be looking to push on next season with their return to the UEFA Champions League after an 18 month period of not playing in the elite European competition. Mkhitaryan in top form added to the arrival of Romelu Lukaku this season, along with the resurgence of Marcus Rashford and the return to form of Anthony Martial, United attacking like could be something the salivate ahead of the new season proper.

Speaking to Sky Sports, The Armenian suggested Mourinho had made him mentally stronger, saying:

“For sure I will be a better player for this experience. Last year with my difficulties they helped me a lot. I could stay more strong in my mind, like mentally. It shows that you are strong enough to win them over or not. I think I have done everything to work hard, to show everyone I can play and that I can do my best for the team.”

Mkhitaryan has stated that he believes Manchester United will aim to do much better this coming season, looking to build on Mourinho’s first season where United lifted the FA Community Shield by beating the Premier League champions at the time, Leicester City, also beating Southampton at Wembley to lift the EFL Cup, which has been renamed again to the Carabao Cup and then that European victory in Stockholm with United lifting the only trophy they had failed to win during the club’s history, completing their trophy haul. Mourinho will be expected to lead his side to a Premier League challenge, with some expecting to lift the trophy in May and seeing it return to Manchester once again. Mkhitaryan said:

“The manager, in general, is saying that we need to do more. We know this season is going to be a little bit harder because we are not going to play in the Europa League we are going to play in the Champions League, which is different.”

United have turned a corner after the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson over four years ago and it is about time. That winning mentality has started to return, which still has some way to go. United will be looking to dominate at home and away in the Premier League, blood youth in the Carabao Cup and aim for glory in the Emirates FA Cup. One thing much bigger is United’s return to the Champions League with many missing those European nights on a Tuesday or a Wednesday. United will be using their pre-season matches, victories over Manchester City and a penalty shootout victory over Real Madrid, as well as their match against Barcelona on Wednesday night in the United States of America, just after midnight on Thursday in the United Kingdom to get ready to play the best teams in Europe again. The Europa League was tough last season, but the Champions League will be much tougher for Mourinho’s team.

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