The Red Devils boss said the ex-Borussia Dortmund star needs to improve to live up to the “big expectations” at Old Trafford
Jose Mourinho says Henrikh Mkhitaryan “must do more” to be a success at Manchester United after the midfielder made his first appearance for the club since September in Thursday’s 2-1 defeat to Fenerbahce.
Mkhitaryan has been absent from United’s first team since the 2-1 loss at the hands of Manchester City on September 10 following his summer move from Borussia Dortmund for £26 million but he was a 61st-minute substitute in the disappointing Europa League loss in Istanbul.
Mourinho has faced pressure to play the Armenian, who was named Bundesliga Player of the Year last season, but speaking in Turkey, the United boss pulled no punches.
“I’m not thinking about sending him off, but he has to do more – it’s as simple as that,” Mourinho said in his post-match media conference.
“We have big expectations at this club, we have lots of players for this position and he has to play better than [Juan] Mata, [Jesse] Lingard and [Anthony] Martial – he has to play better than them and it’s as simple as that.
“Every manager in the world wants to win matches, every manager wants to play the players that he thinks can help the team more and I am not different.”
Paul Pogba is a doubt for Sunday’s match at Swansea after limping off in the 28th-minute, while Ander Herrera is suspended, leaving Mkhitaryan with an outside chance of making his second start at the Liberty Stadium, after failing to impress in his previous start against Manchester City.
After the 0-0 draw with Burnley last weekend, Mourinho changed personnel for the trip to Turkey but felt his team lacked the mentality to get a positive result after Moussa Sow’s 2nd-minute opener and Jermain Lens’ free-kick won it for Fener.
“We produce, we created, [it was] high risk,” Mourinho said. “My two changes [to the starting XI] were two midfield players for two attacking players — Pogba and [Morgan] Schneiderlin for [Juan] Mata and [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic.
“We played with five bodies in attacking areas, we kept control of the game. They crossed the midfield line once – free kick and goal. We are fragile and behind. I know we are, but we are not scoring enough goals. When you are like this, you need to be stronger mentally and start the game in a different way than we did.”