Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has affirmed that Armenian international Henrikh Mkhitaryan will start on Thursday when they take on Feyenoord in their Europa League encounter. The 27-year-old, who joined United from Borussia Dortmund in the summer, has failed to establish himself as a regular in Mourinho’s starting eleven. The former Shakhtar Donetsk player has made just six appearances for the Red Devils so far, with his only start came in the Manchester derby back in September.
The game against Feyenoord is crucial for both Mkhitaryan and Mourinho, and if the Armenian international can help his side secure all three points, he could rejuvenate his Manchester United career. Mourinho revealed he had spoken to Mkhitaryan on Saturday and promised him a start against Feyenoord. “I told him today [Saturday] that he is going to be involved in the game against Feyenoord,” said Mourinho. “He is trying. Obviously, he is not happy, but he is transforming his frustration in a good way, which is to close the mouth, work hard and try to adapt.”
The 27-year-old was in impressive form for Dortmund last season, and his move to United for a fee of £27 million was labelled as one of the best deals of the summer. However, he has endured a torrid time in Manchester so far as he has been overlooked by his manager. He didn’t feature for the Red Devils for the visit of Arsenal on Saturday as he sat in from the Sir Bobby Charlton Stand.
Mourinho justified his decision to leave the summer signing out of the squad. “I told him ‘this was not the game for you’ because I don't think he needs 10 or 20 minutes from the bench,” said Mourinho. “I said ‘I think you need a good game and you need to either start or, if not, to come for the second half’. He needs less pressure and better conditions for him to express his qualities.”
United need Mkhitaryan to deliver a match-winning performance on Thursday because the tie against Feyenoord will undoubtedly be a tough one. The De Stadionclub won the reverse fixture 1-0, in September, courtesy of a Tonny Vilhena goal and the Eredivisie champions have been in fine form this season firing them atop the league table.
Manchester United find themselves in the third position in their Europa League group and are a point behind both Fenerbahce and Feyenoord who occupy the top two spots. The Red Devils will be desperate for all three points on Thursday and Mourinho will be hoping that Mkhitaryan would help his cause.
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