How Can Jose Mourinho Get The Most Out Of Henrikh Mkhitaryan At Manchester United?

How Can Jose Mourinho Get The Most Out Of Henrikh Mkhitaryan At Manchester United?
14:17, 03 Aug 2017

This summer has been one of improvisation for Manchester United. First, they identified Antoine Griezmann as their top target. Then when Atletico Madrid’s transfer ban quelled their hopes of securing the Frenchman, they turned to Alvaro Morata, only for Real Madrid’s stubbornness to get in the way of that plan as well.

Eventually, Romelu Lukaku was signed from Everton for £75 million, but the Belgian is a direct replacement for Zlatan Ibrahimovic. A gigantic gap still remains in Man Utd’s frontline. They need a dynamic forward to work alongside the focal point of the attack. That focal point was Ibrahimovic, not it will be Lukaku. Nothing else has changed.

Far too frequently last season, United were one dimensional in attack. They were too quick to lump the ball forward to Ibrahimovic, completely bypassing the exciting frontline supporting the Swede. They mustn’t make the same mistake with Lukaku, but with nobody yet identified to provide a foil there’s no reason to believe they won’t.

He might not have been able to lure Griezmann, but Jose Mourinho still needs someone to perform the role the Frenchman would have had he pitched up at Old Trafford this summer. If he doesn’t fancy Marcus Rashford to fill that position, instead preferring the youngster on the wings, he must turn to Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

The Armenian has enjoyed a strong pre-season, scoring in Wednesday night’s friendly win over Sampdoria, netting an exhilarating strike on the counter attack. That demonstrated just how devastating he can be when played in the right way, in the right position. Mourinho rarely did that last season and so United fans only caught a glimpse of what Mkhitaryan can offer their team.

This is why Mourinho must use him as a supplementary forward of sorts. It’s a role he fulfilled at Borussia Dortmund, becoming one of the most dangerous, entertaining players in the Bundesliga. Only a handful of times last season was Mkhitaryan used in a central position. Particularly with Wayne Rooney gone, it would seem there is now more scope for him to be used in that way.

Of course, Mourinho might want to keep his Man Utd side the way they are. The Portuguese has never been renowned for his dynamic, attacking play, instead choosing to focus on making his teams tough to beat, difficult to break down. That doesn’t bode well for Mhkitaryan and his prospects of being used in his best position.

However, Mourinho always committed to the notion of adapting to the fabled ‘Manchester United Way’ upon taking over at Old Trafford last summer, and so perhaps he will tailor his archetypal style in order to fit in with his surroundings. There might be a place in the attacking line for Mkhitayran after all.

“I'm always trying to help the team to achieve their dreams, I'm always trying to help the team score goals and to assist because it is very important, that's what we are playing for,” Mkhitaryan explained earlier in the summer. “Of course, there will be games where you are not able to do this but you have to try to help the team and your team-mates to do that for you.

“He [Mourinho] always tries to find the best for the player and he is always looking to the players if they are working very hard and that's what I am doing. I am working hard, I'm doing my best to show him that I am ready to play.”

Mourinho and the Armenian haven’t always seen eye to eye, with Mkhitaryan exiled for the first few weeks of last season. Ultimately, it Mourinho’s treatment seemed to serve the player well, returning to the fold to become a key figure for the rest of the campaign. Now, he could become even more significant at Old Trafford.

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