José Mourinho believes Mkhitaryan will come good in time

Manchester United manager cites Willian and Angel Di Maria as examples of slow starters

 Henrikh Mkhitaryan has not played for Manchester United since being taken off at half-time in the English Premier League defeat to Manchester City on September 10th. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan has not played for Manchester United since being taken off at half-time in the English Premier League defeat to Manchester City on September 10th. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty.

 
José MourinhoHenrikh MkhitaryanManchester United

The 27-year-old has played only 104 minutes of Premier League football since arriving at Old Trafford from Borussia Dortmund in the summer. Mkhitaryan has not featured for United since being hauled off at half-time in the league defeat by Manchester City on September 10th and, despite returning to training after suffering a thigh injury on international duty, was not included on the bench in the EFL Cup win over Pep Guardiola’s team on Wednesday.

Mourinho confirmed the Armenia international is over his injury, albeit not match fit ahead of Burnley’s visit to Old Trafford on Saturday, but admitted the attacking midfielder still needs to adapt to the change from the Bundesliga.

The United manager explained: “He’s not injured. Sometimes I confuse the meaning ‘fit’ in the English language.

‘Great condition’

“I think it takes time. Some players, their profile is adapted to come and play, some others they need more time to feel the intensity and the aggression, the game without the ball, the competitiveness. Many times players come from different countries. The style of football is different and the reality is different in terms of competitiveness. There’s no other country where it doesn’t matter the team you play against, you have to play at the highest level or if you don’t you have no chance. Micky needs time to become the top player he can be.”

Mkhitaryan was named player of the year in the Bundesliga last season and Mourinho cited Willian and Ángel Di María as examples of attacking midfielders who have flourished in his teams following difficult starts, at Chelsea and Real Madrid respectively.

“I think it will work out for sure,” he added of the Armenian. “I don’t like to speak about players from other clubs but I don’t think they will be upset with me – Willian, when he arrived at Chelsea, had problems to play. He went through a process, a difficult few months and then after he became a top player. The next season he became absolutely phenomenal.

“When Di María arrived at Real Madrid he also had to learn a lot about his game and a new reality. Sometimes it happens – sometimes with defenders but it’s easier for defenders. For attacking players sometimes they arrive and go straight to success. Other times it takes a little more time. In Mikhi’s case the process was interrupted by an injury that kept him out for about a month. To be out for a month in this process and then be fit but not fit to play you have to go through a process of getting match fitness and then you need competitive level to do it. Of course we believe in him and of course we believe that sooner or later there will be no problem.” Guardian Service

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