Mourinho’s men travel to Liverpool on Monday Night, in what could be a fascinating Premier league game to watch, but it appears summer signing Henrikh Mkhitaryan will not be part of the team.
When Mkhitaryan joined Borussia Dortmund in 2013, the club’s coach then, Jurgen Klopp, offered him a €50 wager. If the Armenia International could score seven goals with his first 30 shots on target, the wager was his. If he couldn’t, Klopp took the money.
Mkhitaryan was off to an impressive start as he hit the back of the net twice in his first away game, a 2-1 win at Eintracht Frankfurt. Klopp paid up. “I left it lying around just in case,” he admitted.
Mkhitaryan actually finished with nine goals from 70 shots, but it mattered little, he had made his point, he could be a real weapon of destruction for his team
It seems however, that Manchester United will have to be patient with the Armenian. Eleven games into the season and Mkhitaryan has started only once, a debut against Manchester City in which he appeared totally overwhelmed.
The 27-year-old barely seemed to get on the ball but the statistics showed that he still managed to lose possession on 12 occasions – more than any other player on the pitch.
Mkhitaryan was supposed to be the mesmerizing playmaker proffering technical solutions to Manchester United’s attacking woes.
However, Jose Mourinho’s quest for a solution barely involves the player Klopp likened to a chess grandmaster. Injury has kept him out since the Manchester derby , but the argument that he was being played out of position holds no water.
Mkhitaryan excelled on the right flank for Borussia Dortmund.
It was from that position that he topped the Bundesliga assist rankings last season as well as finding the back of the net 23 times in all competitions. A performance that earned him the Kicker’s players’ player of the year award.
But it’s worth noting that Kicker also pointed out that it was only under Thomas Tuchel that Mkhitaryan’s potential was finally unfolding. After that fast start, he’d had his moments under Klopp, but it was a pretty tough period for the team
History suggests that Mkhitaryan gets there in the end, but that he needs support. He received it at Dortmund in the form of Kevin Grosskreutz – Mr Dortmund – the player with whom he shared a room and the man who immediately taught him 20 classic club songs.
The good thing is Manchester United seem willing to wait as Mourinho earlier remarked;
“I know he is a super player and I know for sure he will succeed, so I am not in a hurry to say he plays every game now from the beginning, to show everyone how good he is.”
So maybe it will take him a while to bring his A game to the pitch again, but then, the earlier, the better.