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What went wrong for Henrikh Mkhitaryan at Manchester United?

Sunday 17th December 2017

At the outset of this season, Henrikh Mkhitaryan was one midfielder who simply stood out in the Premier League. The Armenian just couldn’t stop making assists. Less than halfway through the campaign, there’s been a massive slump in form for the midfielder. It’s been an unbelievable capitulation for Mkhi.

You can question a lot about the man, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, but one thing you can’t question is his talent. The Manchester United number 22 is one of the most gifted attacking midfielders around. The question lies in Mkhitaryan’s work rate and commitment.

It’s become common knowledge that one of the prerequisites to play under a manager like Jose Mourinho is the ability to work your socks off every other day. Players who show elements of laxity usually find themselves struggling to get in Jose’s team, irrespective of how gifted they are.

At the start of the season, this didn’t look like it’ll be any problem for  Armenia’s first export to the Premier League. We watched Mkhitaryan make sleek runs, create chances, make daring tackles and exhibit every feature of a Mourinho-like player. Then came the twist. After the Champions League group stage game against CSKA Moscow in Russia in which he scored, the former Dortmund star gradually became a shadow of himself.

Here was a player who started his first eight games of the season with five assists and two goals. He was playing like a man who could come up with that defence-splitting pass to help United win games. However, that impressive form soon fizzled out.

Considering the form with which Mkhi started the season, it’d have been cruel to just drop the player without affording him the opportunity to improve or rekindle that form. Fair enough, Jose Mourinho continued to afford him that opportunity. Still, he went nine games without providing any assists or scoring.

All that could be forgiven if Mkhi’s all-round performance was any better. Far from it. His performance in games continued a steady decline. The former Bundesliga Player of the season regularly cut a lackadaisical figure, unwilling to go the extra mile to make things happen for his team.

Game by game, Mou began to trust Mkhitaryan less and lesser. He was given a start against Chelsea – United lost the game. It won't be unfair to lay all the blame on his shoulders but on that day, the Armenian was really poor.

One more game was afforded the Shakhtar man to prove Jose Mourinho wrong. He couldn’t. The trust was lost. Manchester United’s £30 million man would fall below the fringes of the Red Devils first team.

Since November 25, Henrikh Mkhitaryan has failed to make the matchday squad of Manchester United. They’ve played five games in that time. It’s a fall from grace that is pretty difficult to explain.

It would be wrong to say Mkhitaryan cannot do what would leave fans and manager in awe. He’s showed this during his time with Borussia Dortmund and of course in the early days of this season.

What went wrong?

It could be that the heart of Armenia’s record goalscorer has left England or specifically Manchester United. Perhaps he finds life under Mourinho a bit too constricting and rigid and wants to play where he can spread his wings.

It’s been reported that Mkhi has been working hard to impress Mourinho but that hard work isn’t yielding much. Rather, the player sometimes sits out training sessions.

With a January move to Inter Milan being widely reported after a row with the gaffer last month, it’s unlikely we’ll see any more contribution from Henrikh Mkhitaryan this year.

Kingsley Ukpai

Kingsley is a football aficionado who craves to read, watch, play and write about the greatest team sport ever known to man. If you're talking football he'll be keen to listen to what you have to say. Loves to play Fantasy Football too.

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