Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s arrival to Manchester United was met with a lot of appreciation as Mourinho took charge of the club. A lot of managers worked on similar stuff – like Conte, Guardiola, Klopp, and Mourinho himself, have shuffled their teams to see how things work, and it’s still the initial stages to the new season.
Manchester United have gotten a good start with three straight consecutive victories, but they still have certain hurdles to cross, especially as the teams they face get tougher. Their attack as a team has improved clearly, but they still haven’t quite peaked yet. And considering how Henrikh Mhkitaryan hasn’t started in any game so far, it might just be an indication of the fact that the best is yet to come.
Honestly, the Armenian playmaker would be frustrated with the lack of play time he has received so far. Mourinho has gone ahead with Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard so far. However, as Mourinho made clearin a recent interview, this has nothing to do with the fact that they’re better than Mkhitaryan – it’s just that they suited the opposition better. That’s the advantage one can enjoy with many options, but can Mkhitaryan prove to be truly impactful even if it leads to impatience and frustration?
However, he can take hope from the fact that Mourinho does place attacking brilliance at the core of his best teams. If not, then the likes of big names such as Mesut Ozil, Wesley Sneijder, Eden Hazard, Joe Cole, Arjen Robben and Damien Duff would not have survived under his management.
Having said that, Mourinho shouldn’t waste too much time before he finally gives Mkhitaryan a chance. The midfielder needs a confidence boost, and this also places emphasis on how Arjen Robben once stated that to play under Mourinho, one needs to be “mentally very strong”.
His form has been dependent upon the approval of his manager and he has yet to be given the tactical freedom that Mourinho gave Paul Pogba vs. Southampton. The downside to having too many options is this – if each player fails to get opportunities often, then they tend to decline in form. Case in point, the failure of Kevin De Bruyne, a brilliant attacking midfielder, to fit in at Chelsea under Mourinho.
The little playing time that Mkhitaryan received so far – especially in the game against Southampton at Old Trafford – he partnered perfectly with Pogba on the counterattack, playing in the Frenchman for a chance that he probably should have scored.
He has been known to play a fluid, yet precise, style of football. In fact, with what we’ve seen so far, Mkhitaryan can be lethal once he starts playing on a more regular basis.
The Armenian moved to Old Trafford from Borussia Dortmund in a £26.3million last month and was handed starts in United’s first three pre-season fixtures against Wigan, former club Dortmund and Galatasaray. However, he was only named among the substitutes for the Community Shield win over Leicester and again had to settle for a place on the bench against Bournemouth.
However, with Manchester United facing bigger and stronger teams in their upcoming fixtures, Mkhitaryan should hope to start and possibly work his way into becoming a regular as well.