Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has voiced his opinion on one of his summer signings, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who has yet to start a competitive match for his new club. The Portuguese manager spoke some weeks ago about why he was not selecting the player, which was partly down to those chosen ahead of him playing well, and him allowing the player to settle in at the club. The Armenian, the first to ever play for United, has made three appearances, all from the bench in the FA Community Shield in the 2-1 victory over Leicester City, the 3-1 victory over Bournemouth and the 2-0 victory over Southampton.
When United signed Mkhitaryan, many assumed that he would be an automatic starter for his new club, but he himself stated that he expected to be dropped on occasion. Once he gets into the starting XI and starts to perform, I think he will be a player that gets rotated to keep him fresh and he may seldom be dropped. Last season, Mkhitaryan was named the Bundesliga Player of the Season, and that is not something that is handed out to just anyone. Mourinho, reported by Sky Sports, stated that the Armenian’s lack of playing time is down to a wealth of attacking talent, which the club have this season.
“It’s difficult but if Mata is on the bench, you tell me I want to kick him out and want to sell him.
“If I don’t play Martial it’s because he is in crisis, or if I don’t play Ashley Young, it’s because I don’t like Ashley Young. If it’s Memphis Depay, it is because he is on his way out…
“It is because I think the others [starting ahead of Mkhitaryan] are playing really well.
“When some managers buy players they play them for sure because they think about protecting themselves – ‘I bought this player, I have to show the world I was right.’
“No – the first thing I think about is my team, not myself.
“Because I know he is a super player and I know for sure he will succeed, I am not in a hurry to say he plays every game now from the beginning, to show everyone how good he is. No.
“But he is ready to play and maybe he will play [in United’s away league clash with Hull].”
Mkhitaryan is a player United need, but not at the cost of the player not being ready to jump into the starting XI, or at the expense of a player currently in form. Mourinho, despite his reputation, seems to be putting his team first, which is good to see. If you play well, you remain on the team, if you do not play well, you will be dropped. Mkhitaryan has not been dropped, which is something many will assume is happening. The player knows what he needs to do and knows his situation more than you or me. He had stated previously that he expects this sort of think as a club like United, which is something that has happened many times through the years. United have a big squad, a good squad and the manager needs to be bringing out the best in all of his players.
To bring out the best, and maintain that, you need to create competition, and that competition is in places. The best players at that time play, those on the fringes will aim to replace those playing well, which makes the ones in the starting XI play better, or see themselves dropped. At this stage of the season, with United just playing in the Premier League, competition fo places will be high as every player wants to play. In the first four matches, the majority of the players have featured in all matches and Mourinho said that in September, when the UEFA Europa League and the EFL Cup start, more players will be playing as there will be more matches, six in September. United was drawn against Northampton Town in the EFL Cup on Wednesday evening, then on Friday they were drawn against Fenerbahce, Feyenoord, and Zorya Luhansk in the Europa League, meaning United will be playing twice a week for much of the month, meaning rotation will commence and players will not be fighting for places, like they are currently.