While Luke Shaw has been brought in from the cold at Manchester United, another outcast, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, remains in the stands with Jose Mourinho continuing to overlook the Armenian.
The former Borussia Dortmund player has suffered an indifferent start to life in England and his poor form this season has seen him not selected in the match day squad for seven of the last eight games.
Quoted on manutd.com, Mourinho explained why the 28-year-old is on the fringes of his squad after being omitted once more for the visit of Bournemouth where Manchester United got back to winning ways following Sunday’s disappointing showing against rivals Manchester City.
“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].”
Mkhitaryan’s last appearance for the club came on November 25th when he made a substitute appearance in a tight 1-0 win over Brighton.
While the soon-to-be 29-year-old has work to do to get back into Mourinho’s good books, Luke Shaw on the other hand started his second game in a week after failing to start a match under Mourinho since April.
Shaw was outstanding against Bournemouth on Wednesday, leaving the pitch with a standing ovation and praise from his manager.
“Luke was really good and improving, but then, later in the game, he was feeling cramp and they [Bournemouth] felt that and were trying to go through that side so it was important to bring Ashley Young to the game.
“The reaction of the crowd [when he was replaced] pleased me too because there is no better thing for a player than that.”
Mkhitaryan need look no further than Shaw to see what he should do to get back into Manchester United’s first team.
With a busy festive period of fixtures ahead he has to be ready to grab his opportunity when it comes.
Damien McEvoy, Pundit Arena