Monday 24 October 2016

Up and down form makes Mkhitaryan's absence all the more puzzling

This whole situation with Henrikh Mkhitaryan does not make sense.

Taken off at half time in last month's derby with City, he has suffered an injury but Mourinho said the Armenian was recovered and fully fit for the matches against Liverpool, Fenerbahce and Chelsea.

We have to assume, therefore, that he was.

He picked up the injury during the derby and then aggravated it further for Armenia but it was originally only set to keep him out for ten days. 

Given that our season has been up and down and Jose is still searching for his best system and formation, it's all the more baffling than Mkhitaryan does not seem to be in his plans.

A lack of match fitness would have made it risky for him to start at Anfield and Stamford Bridge but he was not even in the squad- why wasn't he at least an option on the bench- and surely could have played against the Turks.

The reason for his absence was that Mourinho said he does not know a system that "uses four wingers at the same time", and he started with Jesse Lingard, Anthony Martial and Juan Mata, who have been alternatively preferred ahead of Mkhitaryan. 

But he's not even really considered an out and out winger... he can play anywhere across the front and was often used as a "CAM" at Dortmund, to great success. 

His first- and indeed only- start for United came in the chastening derby defeat to Old Trafford where he was taken off at half-time and he has not been seen since.
It remains to be seen whether he will be included for Wednesday's League Cup rematch between the two sides at Old Trafford which has taken on added significance. 

Logically he should play and there is an expectation at United that he will be involved.
Not least given how poor we were at Chelsea: Mkhitaryan has the guile, pace and creativity that we clearly lacked going forward. 

But it is far from certain.

He was heavily praised by Mourinho in the club's first pre-season friendly at Wigan but has not played more than 45 minutes in any of our matches so far and is thought to be confused and unhappy at the situation.

He was named Bundesliga player of the year last season- scoring 25 goals with 28 assists- but there's a growing suspicion that Mkhitaryan was a transfer Mourinho inherited rather than sanctioned himself.

Of the four big summer signings, Mkhitaryan was the one that predated Mourinho and one that he, perhaps, had no say in.
Perhaps that means that Mikki will have to work that bit harder to convince Jose of his worth and that Mourinho is going to make him wait for his chance. 

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