Manchester United uninterested in loaning Armenian to Inter Milan this winter

Manchester United and Henrikh Mkhitaryan are reportedly uninterested in a deal to take the Armenian attacking midfielder to Inter Milan on loan for the remainder of the season. Back in December, it was reported that the Serie A side were interested in taking Mkhitaryan to the San Siro on loan for the remainder of the season after speculation linking the player to a bust-up with United manager Jose Mourinho was reported in the media. Mkhitaryan has been back in the side since the speculation was reported.

Mkhitaryan was dropped from the United squad after Mourinho criticised him for disappearing in a number of appearances, which was actually what happened. United supporters on Twitter were also calling for the Armenian to be dropped as he was clearly holding other players back and clearly needed some time to find his form and maybe even recharge his batteries. Some supporters were then moaning that Mkhitaryan did not return to action quickly, which I felt was a bit petty.

The Armenian started the 1-0 defeat to Chelsea in the Premier League in the 5th November, not starting another match until the 0-0 draw with Southampton on the 30th December, sitting out for just under two months. The player was involved in the squad which beat Everton 2-0 at Goodison Park on New Year’s Day but was an unused substitute. Perhaps he will play a part in the team against Derby County at Old Trafford on Friday evening as United embark on their road to Wembley in the Emirates FA Cup.

It is suggested that Inter Milan have a number of players they want to pursue this winter in order to strengthen their side for the remainder of the season with Mkhitaryan, Barcelona’s Gerard Deulofeu and Paris Saint-Germain’s Javier Pastore all options. There were reports that Inter would use midfielder Joao Mario as bait to land Mkhitaryan but it was suggested that United do not feel Mario is a player that will strengthen the team heading into the second half of the season.

Mkhitaryan started the season in fine form and has made 21 appearances (15 starts and six substitute appearances), scoring two goals, assisting five others. Despite recent performances, there was a strong showing from the Armenian in the opening matches of the season with saw United dominate many matches. Mkhitaryan has 25 shots on goal this season, seeing only eight of those on target. Perhaps Mkhitaryan could find the form that made him undroppable at the start of the season which could see United finish their season in style, as long as rotation was part of the plans.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan needs to earn his place at Manchester United

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has given an explanation as to why he has left Armenian attacking midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan out for the last five matches, also for two matches in November. The attacking midfielder played in the 1-0 victory over Brighton and Hove Albion but had not even been picked for the squad recently with many supporters criticising the manager, but forgetting what they had previously said about the player, calling for him to be dropped.

This season, Mkhitaryan started in great form with two goals and five assists in 16 appearances (13 starts and three from the bench), having 21 shots on goal, seven of those on target. Many thought this was going to be the season of Mkhitaryan and his debut season, which started slowly and soon gained some momentum, would eventually be behind him. With the injury to Paul Pogba, United started to lose the strength they had in the side, which is when Mkhitaryan’s form started to decline. Speaking to the official Manchester United website, Mourinho said:

“I can only have six [outfield] players on the bench and I try to have some balance on the bench – I had two defenders and [Daley] Blind who can play in different areas. I had Ashley Young to cover me all of the wing and the wing-back position.

“I had [Ander] Herrera as a midfield player, Zlatan [Ibrahimovic] as a striker and Marcus [Rashford] as a second striker and winger. I played [Anthony] Martial, [Juan] Mata and [Jesse] Lingard in the team. To have Micki means that I don’t have one of them and, in this moment, I believe the other ones they deserve [the chance to play].”

Mourinho is right to state Mkhitaryan would not deserve his chance to be in the squad, especially after putting in some poor performances at a time where individual players needed to stand up and be counted as a team without Pogba is a team that is out of ideas. Mkhitaryan needed to be one of the players to stand up. but he kept disappearing. I have seen the comments of some Armenian fans as some of them suggest Mkhitaryan is better than Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, which is ludicrous.

Luke Shaw has spent much of the season on the sidelines recovering from injury, returning to fitness with the U23’s and waiting for his chance to impress the manager. Shaw has persevered and earned his place in the team. He has made four appearances this season, two in the Carabao Cup in the 4-1 victory over Burton Albion in September and the 2-0 victory over Swansea City in October. After sitting out of the side for over a month, Shaw started against CSKA Moscow in the UEFA Champions League and played his heart out, doing the same against Bournemouth on Wednesday.

This is what Mkhitaryan will need to do in order to get back into Mourinho’s plans this season. At a team like United, hard work is required and if you are not a player who can give that and goes missing at regular intervals, that will be it. I like Mkhitaryan, he has his uses, but he needs to keep offering that to stay in the team. Perhaps he will find a way back during the busy festive period as United travel to West Bromwich Albion on Sunday as United think about the five matches which will see them through into 2018.

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.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan aims to win the Champions League with Manchester United

Manchester United attacking midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan wants to win the UEFA Champions League with the Old Trafford club after lifting the UEFA Europa League with the club at the end of last season. The Armenian scored United’s second goal in the final at the Friends Arena in Stockholm, Sweden on the 21st May 2017, scoring a pretty good goal at that, which was not his only goal in the competition last season, scoring six in the Europa League, eleven in total throughout the entire season, which was a good start to his United career after overcoming a tough period at the start of the season. Mkhitaryan was answering questions on his Facebook page which was where the revelation came from, showing that the player wants to win the lot with the Old Trafford club.

“The Champions League is where Manchester United belongs and we are all happy to be playing in this great competition again. For the new season, we definitely want to fight for the title. For the Super Cup, it should be a fantastic game against Real Madrid.”

One of the questions was about the goals the player had scored for Manchester United last season, of which he had eleven of them to choose from. The one Mkhitaryan chose was the Scorpion kick against Sunderland on Boxing Day, saying:

“The scorpion goal was most beautiful, but the winning goal in the Europa League final was the most important one.”

Mkhitaryan was also asked about playing for Jose Mourinho and playing in a team with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, something which happened many times last season. Mourinho signed both Mkhitaryan and Ibrahimovic last summer, days apart which boosted the club’s supporters and more importantly the players as the tumultuous times of the past three years would start to end, which was the case with United lifting not one, not two but three trophies last season. Mkhitaryan said:

“Jose [Mourinho] is a winner. He works so hard to win every single game and to make sure that we are all ready to give 100%. He gives us emotion, and motivation. I have learned a lot from him and will continue to do so this season.”

The Armenian was also asked about his favourite moment from last season, his debut season at Manchester United. His answer would be one you would expect though with Mkhitaryan saying:

“Definitely lifting the UEFA Europa League trophy in Stockholm. We worked so hard to win this competition and it was truly special to be able to do it. Now we are really looking forward to be back in the UEFA Champions League.”

Mkhitaryan was also congratulated for scoring six goals in the UEFA Europa League last season, including that special second goal against Ajax in Stockholm. The player was asked what it would mean for him to be named the player of the tournament last season, to which the player said:

“I was so happy to win the Europa League! It was always a target for us all season and to be able to score in the final and to lift the trophy in Stockholm was an amazing feeling. About the award, it would, of course, be an honour for any player to win it, but at the end what matters is the team.”

Mkhitaryan was named in the UEFA Europa League squad of the season along with seven other teammates; Sergio Romero, Eric Bailly, Daley Blind, Antonio Valencia, Ander Herrera, Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. After a great first season at United, lifting three trophies, two of those major honours including one of which the club had never lifted before, will have been a dream come true for the Armenian. It will be something that the club and players, especially the manager, will use to define their next season – where Manchester United will be expected to challenge for the Premier League title, with Chelsea, the holders, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal all finishing above United, but with Arsenal falling into the UEFA Europa League for the first time, missing out on the UEFA Champions League.

Manchester United Player Season Review 2016/17: The Forwards

Manchester United did not have the best of seasons during the 2016/17 campaign which commenced in high spirits with Jose Mourinho replacing Louis van Gaal as the manager, with the Portuguese former Chelsea and Real Madrid manager bringing in Eric Bailly, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Paul Pogba as his four summer signings, Pogba being the current world record signing which could be eclipsed and even surpassed this summer if reports are to be believed. Mourinho had instilled the winning mentality into his new club just weeks after be became the manager, pushing for big changes from the start of the season. United started off by beating Leicester City to win the FA Community Shield, the first of many trophies under Mourinho, which turned out the be the case only in the first season.

United started well in the league, winning their first three matches, but a three-match losing streak then turned the season upside down, losing two Premier League matches and one in the UEFA Europa League. United found their feet again, but the ups and downs kept coming. Too many draws in the Premier League, most of them at home became a problem for United, which contributed in their sixth-placed finish, a first for the club who had finished seventh (David Moyes), fourth and fifth (Louis van Gaal) post-Sir Alex Ferguson. The season had a different feeling to it though, something was being built for the future, Mourinho was bringing United back to the helm just like Ferguson did in the 1990’s.

Of course, Rome was not built in a day, but things are changing. United ended the season with two more trophies; the EFL Cup, beating Southampton 3-2 at Wembley at the end of February and the UEFA Europa League, beating Ajax 2-0 in Sweden, more importantly earning a UEFA Champions League group stage place next season, the minimum requirement for Mourinho and his team. The season reviews have been written for the Premier League, EFL Cup, Emirates FA Cup, and the UEFA Europa League now it is the player’s turn to be reviewed and rated, concluding with the forwards.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

The former Swedish international signed for United on a free last summer on the expiry of his contract with Paris Saint-Germain. In the weeks after his signing, United and other supporters were suggesting he was too old to make an impact in the Premier League, something which would come to haunt them from his very first match, despite it being in the FA Community Shield. Zlatan scored a total of 28 goals for United last season and it could have been more, the chances were being created for the veteran striker. United have some over-reliance on Zlatan, which suggested there were other problems which needed to be sorted, which seems to be why Antoine Griezmann was a target earlier in the summer before Atletico Madrid’s transfer ban was kept in place following an appeal with the Court of Arbitration of Sport. Alvaro Morata and Andrea Belotti also seem to be targets for United with one or both likely to arrive at the Theatre of Dreams this summer. Zlatan suffered a season-ending knee injury against Anderlecht at Old Trafford in April, ending his season, could have ended his career. He went under the knife in the weeks following and is now recovering from his injury. United released Zlatan at the end of the season, not choosing to extend his contract as it is likely he will not play for much first half of the season if he returns to action in 2017. He will be training with United in the meantime after being offered the clubs services, which he seems to have accepted. He could play a part on the sidelines for United, maintaining his winning mentality within the squad, which he did to an extent during the past season. Zlatan added three more trophies to his impressive career haul, which ended his United career in high spirits.

Appearances: Premier League: 28, Emirates FA Cup: 1, EFL Cup: 5, UEFA Europa League: 11, FA Community Shield: 1; Total: 45

Goals: Premier League: 17, Emirates FA Cup: 1, EFL Cup: 4, UEFA Europa League: 5, FA Community Shield: 1; Total: 28

Discipline: Yellow Cards: 8, Red Cards: 0

Season Rating: 3.5/5

Wayne Rooney

Wayne Rooney had a good season if you count beating Sir Bobby Charlton’s goalscoring record for the club. That is his season highlight. The guy, all due respect in mind, is past it. He offers nothing in an attacking basis, seemingly losing his goalscoring instinct. Once he would have shot from outside of the box, now he passes to the left or the right, losing that eye for a long-range goal. Rooney should have left United in 2010 when he handed in that transfer request, but the club were still somewhat reliant on the player who became the captain for both club and his country, which him being scrapped by England partly due to his poor form on the pitch. Rooney still has his uses, but as an attacking player who was once a figure you thought of when the words Manchester United were mentioned, now he symbolises frustration and a player trying to play in the top flight, despite no longer being all that good. I respect Wayne Rooney for his achievements at Manchester United, winning all major trophies, well apart from the UEFA Super Cup, but in terms of dragging out his career, he should really think about moving on. Gone are the days where he is worth 100% of his weekly wage.

Appearances: Premier League: 25, Emirates FA Cup: 2, EFL Cup: 4, UEFA Europa League: 7, FA Community Shield: 1; Total: 39

Goals: Premier League: 5, Emirates FA Cup: 1, EFL Cup: 0, UEFA Europa League: 2, FA Community Shield: 0; Total: 8

Discipline: Yellow Cards: 9, Red Cards: 0

Season Rating: 2/5

Anthony Martial

The Frenchman did not have the best second season at Manchester United. Under Louis van Gaal he was a player who excited, a bit like Adnan Januzaj did during his first season under David Moyes. Anthony Martial was a ‘panic buy’ and ‘waste of money’, a player who would not fit into the Premier League, they said. What did Martial do? He proved his critics wrong. Martial is a class act, but at times under Jose Mourinho, he was not fulfilling his potential at United. Martial was criticised by the manager, left out of matches, but given chances whereby he never actually put the effort in. His year has not been a good one though with plenty of fallout from his personal life, which should not really be affecting his game, but he is only human. Next season should be a better one for Martial. It has already been confirmed by the player’s agent that he will still be at the Old Trafford club, which is a good thing. He should not be written off after just two seasons. He is still a player very much developing in the game.

Appearances: Premier League: 25, Emirates FA Cup: 3, EFL Cup: 3, UEFA Europa League: 10, FA Community Shield: 1; Total: 42

Goals: Premier League: 4, Emirates FA Cup: 1, EFL Cup: 2, UEFA Europa League: 1, FA Community Shield: 0; Total: 8

Discipline: Yellow Cards: 3, Red Cards: 0

Season Rating: 3.5/5

Marcus Rashford

The teenager has gone from strength to strength in his first full season at Manchester United. Rising through the ranks last season saw him being propelled into the big time. This season would be a big one for him, playing second fiddle to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, a player who would teach him a lot, which was the case. Marcus Rashford spent much of the season being played on the wing, something which the player said he wanted to do in order to better himself and become that forward who could play anywhere on the pitch. He’s not a winger, and in a season where only one striker was utilised up front, playing him out of position was deemed better for his development rather that sitting him on the bench. After the unfortunate injury to Zlatan at the end of the season, it was left to Rashford to lead the line, being the player responsible for scoring the goals. He did just that, not in every match, but he scored some crucial goals, including a free-kick against Celta Vigo in Spain, the goal that won United the semi-final first leg. Rashford, still a teenager has the potential, the determination and the talent to succeed. Next season will be just as big for him as he looks towards earning his stripes.

Appearances: Premier League: 32, Emirates FA Cup: 3, EFL Cup: 6, UEFA Europa League: 11, FA Community Shield: 1; Total: 53

Goals: Premier League: 5, Emirates FA Cup: 3, EFL Cup: 1, UEFA Europa League: 2, FA Community Shield: 0; Total: 11

Discipline: Yellow Cards: 3, Red Cards: 0

Season Rating: 3.5/5

Henrikh Mkhitaryan

Henrikh Mkhitaryan signed for United last summer, the third signing and one who would excite. The Armenian was wanted by many clubs in the Premier League, many of whom will deny they wanted him based on the fact Jose Mourinho and Manchester United got him. He had a tough start to his season, being hooked at half-time against Manchester City at Old Trafford, then suffering an injury and then sitting on the sidelines waiting for a chance to be given to him. When he got the chance, he paid the manager back. Mkhitaryan scored six goals in the UEFA Europa League, breaking a record in doing so. He has turned into a class act for his club, a player who will keep giving what is needed at the club. Mkhitaryan has the ability to create and score for United, as he had done throughout the season, scoring eleven goals in 40 appearances, which may not be the best, be compared to his peers, he did just as much, if not more than them. The Armenian will be fired up for the new season. New acquisitions are coming, ones to better the team and strengthen the weakened areas, better still, more of that winning mentality, which has been needed for the last three years following the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson.

Appearances: Premier League: 23, Emirates FA Cup: 3, EFL Cup: 2, UEFA Europa League: 11, FA Community Shield: 1; Total: 40

Goals: Premier League: 4, Emirates FA Cup: 1, EFL Cup: 0, UEFA Europa League: 6, FA Community Shield: 0; Total: 11

Discipline: Yellow Cards: 4, Red Cards: 0

Season Rating: 3.5/5

Henrikh Mkhitaryan has everything to be successful

Manchester United attacking midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan has everything he needs to be successful at the Old Trafford club according to former player Dwight Yorke. The Armenian moved to the Theatre of Dreams last summer in a £26.3 million move from Borussia Dortmund, becoming Jose Mourinho’s third signing of the summer, after Eric Bailly and Zlatan Ibrahimovic and before Paul Pogba. Mkhitaryan has made 40 appearances for United this season; 29 starts and 11 substitute appearances. He has scored 10 goals, assisting a further five and has had a total of 65 shots on goal, 26 of those being on target. The start of his career at United was disappointing with Mourinho criticising the player and him then fighting to get a place in the team, being a mainstay, other than being rotated, for the remainder of the season.

Mkhitaryan was a star in Dortmund, taking some time to settle, but being the player with the most assists in his final season in the Bundesliga, which shows his class. There is nothing to stop Mkhitaryan from doing that same at United, which is what Mourinho will be looking to do at United as he seeks improvement from this season, in the league especially, which is where United have fallen short of this season. Dwight Yorke, speaking exclusively to 888sport, said:

“We’ve seen Mkhitaryan come in and really give the team balance and contribute with goals as well. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been able to really kick on due to injuries and the manager’s rotation policy but he’s a really talented player who causes a lot of trouble for defenders when he’s on song. The problem is that at Manchester United you cannot have too many bad days without it being noticed and then the critics jump on the bandwagon. A first season in the Premier League is always a difficult scenario but he has everything you need to be successful.”

Personally, I don’t see Mkhitaryan as a winger, that is a position United need to strengthen this summer, among others, so the Armenian can occupy a central role, behind the striker, which is a position he has been dangerous in this season, providing United play in a similar formation to this season, of course. In a 4-3-3 formation, there would not be that main option of playing behind a striker, unless a midfielder was taken out of the picture, in favour of the Armenian, which could still see the likes of Paul Pogba playing in his favoured role, to the left of the midfield three, which will show his strengths and help the team move forward, showing just why United broke the transfer record to sign him from Juventus last summer. One thing is for sure, next season will be exciting, after this exciting summer. United just need to beat Ajax in the UEFA Europa League final this evening in Sweden, meaning only Chelsea in England will have had a better season than them.

Read the full 888sport interview with Dwight Yorke, including his thoughts on how a Europa League win would make Mourinho a United great.

Mourinho has been protecting Mkhitaryan; When will he come good?

Henrikh Mkhitaryan was signed by Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho in a £26 million move from Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund in the summer, being the third signing of the summer in which had already seen Eric Bailly and Zlatan Ibrahimovic sign for United, with Paul Pogba completing the quartet with his move later in the summer. Mkhitaryan became the first Armenian to play for United, which is an achievement, but right now, that means nothing, as the player is just not getting in the matchday squad, which is starting to ask many questions. Mourinho passed comment about Mkhitaryan after Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Arsenal when asked if the Armenian was any closer to playing for the club with his last appearance in the 2-1 defeat to Fenerbahçe at the start of the month. Mourinho, reported by the official Manchester United website, said:

“Yes. I told him today [Saturday] that he is going to be involved in the game against Feyenoord. He is trying. Obviously he is not happy but he is transforming his frustration in a good way, which is to close the mouth, work hard and try to adapt.

“I told him ‘this was not the game for you’ because I don’t think he needs 10 or 20 minutes from the bench. I said ‘I think you need a good game and you need to either start or, if not, to come for the second half’. He needs less pressure and better conditions for him to express his qualities.”

The fact that Mkhitaryan was the top assist maker in the Bundesliga last season, also winning the Player of the Season, and going to the shadow of a figure he seems to have become at United, is worrying, but Moutinho does not seem to be as worried as the rest of the supporters, even the player himself seems calm by the situating that he is facing. The transition from one league to another is always going to be difficult, and for some, it can be much worse to deal with. Some players make that transition like a duck to water, other need time. Mkhitaryan needed two years to adapt to the Bundesliga, turning into one of the brightest prospects in the league, so for that reason, he deserves the time to settle and adapt at United, I reckon it could be worth it, as long as it does not take a number of years. Mourinho seems to know and trust what he is doing, something he is qualified to do. Football in real life is nothing like the various computer games we can all play.

Mkhitaryan will play against Feyenoord at Old Trafford on Thursday night, according to Mourinho, but whether he starts or is a substitute remains to be seen. I would like to see him start, which would allow him some time to show his skills, adapt to his teammates, which is not something he has done all that often; his last appearance was against Fenerbahçe three weeks ago, before that it would be the Manchester derby at Old Trafford back in September. Mkhitaryan deserves the time on the pitch to prove himself, but if he does not look great on the ball and makes mistakes, the same fas who want to see him involved will criticise and ridicule the player, which is hardly fair. United fans have turned into a fickle bunch over the past three years, championing a player one moment, then carving his chest with daggers the next, which might seem fair in their minds, but is it really. Speaking via the official Manchester United website late on Tuesday evening, comments from Mourinho were released regarding the Armenian being closer to playing, saying:

“Yes. I told him today [Saturday] that he is going to be involved in the game against Feyenoord. He is trying. Obviously he is not happy but he is transforming his frustration in a good way, which is to close the mouth, work hard and try to adapt.

“I told him ‘this was not the game for you’ because I don’t think he needs 10 or 20 minutes from the bench. I said ‘I think you need a good game and you need to either start or, if not, to come for the second half’. He needs less pressure and better conditions for him to express his qualities.”

Hopefully Mkhitaryan will take his chance. He is training with his teammates on a daily basis, which will help and Mourinho and his coaches are seeing what he does in training, so he must be doing well if he is ready to play in the game, which is obviously less pressured than the match against Arsenal at the weekend for instance. Mkhitaryan did not do well in September’s derby, so putting him under the same pressure at this stage of the season would probably not work. One thing is for certain, Mkhitaryan is a Manchester United player and when he is ready to offer his full potential to the team, which is a lot, the squad will benefit from it. He’s looked good in glimpses so far, which is a positive sign and gathering some confidence for United against Feyenoord, then possible playing in one of both of the matches against West Ham United in the Premier League and the EFL Cup could be great for the Armenian, who is the last of four signings in the summer to find his feet at the club. I am sure the likes of Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic have been helping their teammate settle in, and will continue to do so, along with the rest of the team and the manager.

International Reds: Schweinsteiger bows out; Mkhitaryan injured?

The international break has started meaning that now top flight club football will commence until next weekend. On Wednesday evening, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Bastian Schweinsteiger represented their respective countries, Armenia and Germany, with Schweinsteiger bowing out of the international stage after announcing his retirement after the European Championships in France earlier this summer. During the international break, we will be reporting on how each Manchester United player has done whilst playing for his country. Here is how Mkhitaryan and Schweinsteiger did on Wednesday evening.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan – Czech Republic 3-0 Armenia

Henrikh Mkhitaryan started in the 3-0 defeat to the Czech Republic, captaining his country. It took just four minutes for the home side to take the lead, through Ladislav Krejci. In the 34th minute of the match, Vaclav Kadlec doubled the hosts lead. In the 38th minute of the match, Mkhitaryan was replaced by Artak Yedigaryan after colliding with Marek Sukhy and being unable to continue. The injury does not look all that serious, just enough for him being unable to continue the match and when asked by supporters if he would be fit for the FIFA World Cup qualifier against Denmark in Copenhagen on Sunday, he replied: “I hope so”.

Next Match: Denmark – FIFA World Cup Qualifier – Sunday 4th September 2016, KO 17:00 BST 

Bastian Schweinsteiger – Germany 2-0 Finland

Bastian Schweinsteiger started in the 2-0 victory over Finland on Wednesday evening at the Borussia-Park in Mönchengladbach. This was a friendly match branded a testimonial and the 121st and final appearance for Schweinsteiger for Germany, which was a sad occasion for himself and his fans. Every time he touched the ball, the supporters in the stadium erupted in applause, which was a fitting touch for the man that helped his country win the FIFA World Cup just two years ago in Brazil, also beating the hosts 7-0 on the way to the final, something Brazil have never really recovered from, even their Gold Medal at the Olympics will not change that. In the 15th minute of the match, Schweinsteiger picked a perfect pass for Max Meyer, one of the stars of Germany’s Olympics side, but his low strike from 20-yards did not have the accuracy it needed. The match headed into half-time 0-0, with Schweinsteiger and his teammates looking to give him a fitting send-off. In the 55th minute, Meyer scored his first senior goal for his country, assisted by Mario Götze. By the 68th minute of the match, it was time to say goodbye to Schweinsteiger, who was replaced by Julian Weigl. In the 77th minute of the match, Mesut Özil, assisted by Götze, doubled the home side’s lead, sending Schweinsteiger into international retirement as a match winner once again. At the end of the match, applause roared once against for Schweinsteiger with banners around the stadium saying “Danke, Basti”, in recognition of the work the player had done for his country.

Next Match: Retired from international duty

Henrikh Mkhitaryan will be a star at Manchester United, says Jose Mourinho

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.

copyright: JW