Few things have been truly remarkable about Manchester United’s season so far. Their impotency in front of goal, mediocre league performances and ambivalence towards the Europa League all seem familiar, even expected.
Their insistence on playing slow, ponderous football, however, has been remarkable, especially given that they bought one of Europe’s premier attacking threats last season in Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
The Armenian has made do with a place on the bench while watching Paul Pogba, Wayne Rooney et al. fail to an extraordinary degree in posing much of a threat to United’s opponents. Many had presumed the former Dortmund player had, at worst, fallen out with Mourinho, or, at best, was deeply disappointed with his tenure at Old Trafford so far.
Speaking to the Armenian FA, and as quoted in the Manchester Evening News, however, Mkhitaryan dispels both theories.
Candidly, and in tones that will soothe Manchester United fans’ concerns, he speaks of his good relationship with Mourinho and eagerness to impress him:
“Regarding Jose Mourinho, I hope I can learn a lot from him. He is a coach with a fantastic record.
“There are no disappointments, just challenges. I never stop or give up when I encounter obstacles in my way. I just continue going until I reach my career objectives.
“Today I don’t have enough playing time, so I have to do all my best so the coaching staff gives me the chance to play.”
Mkhitaryan has admittedly spent much of the season recovering from a thigh injury sustained in September, but even allowing for that he has been afforded little opportunity in the first team. He was left out of the squad for last weekend’s win over Swansea but remains upbeat about his future at the club.
“I know I can succeed at Manchester United and I want to show everyone that I deserve to be a key player in this team, in this league.
“It has been relatively simple to adapt to the city because people are so friendly to me.
“It’s a dynamic city and one I like to live in. I am only missing playing time but it will come for sure. I keep working hard and this will pay off.”
This interview marks one of the rare occasions the midfielder has spoken out since joining the club. The Old Trafford faithful will be hoping he has some positive contributions to reflect on upon his next interview, rather than mere hopes of a brighter tomorrow.
Colm Egan, Pundit Arena