Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has experienced mixed results during his time at Old Trafford. The Portuguese has taken his team to three finals within his first two seasons in charge, winning the Europa League and Capital One Cup but losing last month’s FA Cup final to Chelsea. The former Chelsea boss has certainly done better than the two men who preceded him, with both David Moyes and Louis van Gaal struggling under the expectations and pressure at United, but one area that has been particularly hit-and-miss in these two seasons has been Mourinho’s transfer record.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan was brought in during the summer of 2016 from Borussia Dortmund, but it wasn’t until November of that year that the Armenian was able nail down a place in the starting XI. After a decent start to the 2017/18 season, however, Mkhitaryan suffered an alarming dip in form, and looked completely out of his depth at United, leading Mourinho to include the player in a swap deal with Arsenal for Alexis Sanchez.
Now, several months on, the United manager has publicly addressed the reasons behind Mkhitaryan’s swift exit from Old Trafford in an interview with Gary Linker for the Premier League Show. In quotes carried by the Daily Star, Mourinho said:
“He (Mkhitaryan) realised he was not ready for this reality – physical, mental, competitiveness.
“Also his body, to adapt to that intensity with little time to recover from match to match, is hard.”
Whether or not the Armenian will agree with this frank and critical appraisal of the situation remains to be seen, and you can be sure that Mkhitaryan’s agent Mino Raiola will be far from pleased to read these comments. Regardless, this isn’t exactly out-of-step with the last few months of the player’s time at United, given how lost the former Dortmund man looked in the side, and his dwindling effort levels. As such, even if this exit wasn’t particularly well handled, it’s clear for both parties that it was the right decision.