One of the positives from Manchester United’s 2-0 win over Wigan Athletic was the first-half performance of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Jose Mourinho’s summer signing from Borussia Dortmund who impressed supporters with a menacingly creative display at the DW Stadium.
The 27-year-old Armenian started the match as a no.10 and quickly created an excellent opportunity for Memphis Depay, before missing the target himself when meeting a cross. He was taken off at half-time as one of seven planned substitutions and Mourinho praised his unofficial debut after the match, describing him as a “top-class player” with a “magnificent” brain.
Mkhitaryan spoke exclusively to MUTV following the final whistle and discussed his first match with United.
“I would say it was a good game,” declared Henrikh. “The first half was a little bit difficult because we couldn't score a goal. But whatever, we made a good game and thank you to my team-mates. I was trying to feel comfortable. I think day by day it will be better."
Asked about how he is settling in with his new club, Mkhitaryan spoke optimistically about the future: “I am trying, because the first days are always very difficult. You have to get to know your team-mates and their qualities, so I am trying to learn everything very quickly. Game by game it will be better and better. Of course we're getting ready for the new season so we are trying to do everything the coach is asking from us."
Saturday’s 2-0 win in Wigan was cheered on by around 7,000 United fans at the DW Stadium and Mkhitaryan was grateful to play in front of such support. “It's always a pleasure to see the United fans during the away games so I am happy and I say thanks to them for coming,” he concluded.
He is just smooooth, those defenders were scared, soon as he moved in their direction a shoulder would drop and they were ready to move out of the way
Honestly think before season end he is going to be well noted as the best 10 in the league (and world class) The very thought of Ibra running out in front of him should have opponents very concerned He might not admit it, but I bet Jose's inner muppet is running amok right now
1:17 and 3:34. Good movement. We're better already. And he can cross. Not sure how those chances weren't put away, but looks promising!
It's always good to temper the inner muppet, especially after seasons that have been vangaalized, but, when looking at Miki and how promising he looked, can't help but remember that he did the same thing to the defenders he faced in the Bundisliga, so his performance is pretty much right on track with what I would want to see coming off his holidays
There are midday canapés, a DJ with devil horns and red face paint, as well as seats marked 'VIP' in front of a mini football pitch. Manchester United launched their first Adidas kit in 23 years in Manchester's Northern Quarter last year, yet while Mancunians sleep or navigate their way back home after a Friday night on Deansgate Locks, Shanghai is hosting the official unveiling of this season's new home strip.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan is flanked by 10 teammates as they emerge from a blanket of smoke, donned in the full garb, marshalled by Jose Mourinho. Mkhitaryan's former club, Borussia Dortmund, are popular in China and boast a higher average attendance than United but do not have the clout to generate such a buzz over a shirt design.
Some of the players, unaccustomed to the glitz, struggle to hide their weariness as Mourinho is asked a string of banal questions and two Adidas employees proudly speak about the design of the kit. Jesse Lingard, looking stultified, mutters something to Marcus Rashford, who seems too drowsy to respond.
While Juan Mata, Ashley Young and Daley Blind are obliged to engage in a freestyle battle, Mkhitaryan heads backstage with David de Gea and Eric Bailly for media duties. The music is still blaring in the background but Mkhitaryan puts the huddled reporters at ease by quickly showcasing his excellent English. Surrounded by inquisitors, he holds court as impressively as he holds onto the ball.
The Armenian uses 'dream' and its derivatives six times to describe his recent transfer. Mkhitaryan was only seven when his father, a professional footballer in Armenia, died at the tragically young age of 33 from a brain tumour and the memory of Hamlet Mkhitaryan is a major inspiration for his son.
“He was my drive,” he says. “So he was my motivation because when I was young he was playing football professionally and I was always dreaming to go with him to the training ground, but in one case I couldn't understand that I would disturb him during training because I was a child.
“Because of him when we came back to Armenia it was my dream to continue his work and to also be a football player.
“He was 33-years-old (when he passed away), I was seven-years-old at the time so, yes, it is a pity but that's life. The life continues and I hope he is proud looking at me from the sky, so I try to do everything to make him proud.”
His father would have been an invaluable confidant when Mkhitaryan turned professional.
“I'm sad because I think he could have helped me with his words and his support,” he concedes. “But that's life. I'm trying to do everything with my family members, my friends, who are watching me every day, every game I am playing, so they are trying to help me to say what I did wrong and what I did well and I try to improve myself.”
Mkhitaryan is from, in his own words, a 'football family'. His mother worked for the Armenia Football Federation and his sister is employed by Uefa. His father's death helped him grow up faster while his mother did her utmost to try and fill the gaping void in the family's lives.
“It is very difficult when you grow up without a father," he explains thoughtfully. "Because in the family you don't have a real man who can give you direction, discipline, but in one case my mother was my mother and father, so I am thankful to her and I am thankful to all the people who were next to me at the time in a hard moment.
“So the life continues and I am trying to learn something new from the people and getting into football.”
Mourinho specified in Shanghai Mkhitaryan was the 'creative signing' he had prioritised. The Portuguese watched him play for Dortmund at Werder Bremen with Rui Faria in February, a day after several outlets reported talks between Mourinho and United. The match ended goalless but Mkhitaryan was recognised as the Bundesliga Player of the Year.
“It means I did something good in my life,” Mkhitaryan says of United's interest. “And I could join a new championship in the Premier League, so I was very happy and finally I said someone could see the work I did last year.”
Mkhitaryan's former Dortmund teammates, Shinji Kagawa and Adnan Januzaj, have both failed to meet the demands of United supporters. Mkhitaryan did not consult the Japanese on United after he was informed of their interest, but Kagawa's struggles are noted by United's new No.22: “You have to try and do everything to show your best qualities otherwise you will not be here anymore.”
There is a huge onus on Mkhitaryan to make United entertaining again.
“I never promise something, I always say that I will try,” he stresses. “Because if you promise something and you don't do you will always be under pressure, so that is why I'm trying to say I will do all my best and I will try to help Manchester because, for me, this is a new challenge and I like difficulties. I like to win the difficulties because when you win the difficulties it makes you stronger, so I'm trying to do everything to come up to a new level.”
Mkhitaryan refuses to allow supporters' expectations and a hefty transfer fee to leave him feeling flustered. The Shanghai heat is pushing 40 but there is not a bead of sweat on his forehead as he offers a humble admission.
“It doesn't matter if they buy me for, I don't know, 38million or 40million, I am not guaranteed to play the games,” Mkhitaryan shrugs. “So I am trying to do my best during the training to earn this place to play and then we will see.
“Because I don't think I will play every game, depending on the tactical situation, depending on the opponent, but I will do everything to try and help the team.
“After my football career I want to sit down and think I did something good, I won this title, I won this title, because that's the history and if you retire after your football career, the people will talk about your titles and that is the most important thing in football.”
Mkhitaryan and Zlatan Ibrahimovic are both represented by Mino Raiola and, although the discussion does not switch to another of his eminent clients, Mkhitaryan becomes giddy when the Swede's name is mentioned.
"He's an amazing player," Mkhitaryan says of Ibrahimovic. "The name says everything for himself, the words are just, like, no matter. No comment. I think for me it will be easy to play with him because he is a high-quality player, he knows how to keep the ball, how to play with it and how to create space for the others so I'm waiting to work with him."
Jose Mourinho has explained why he didn’t name Henrikh Mkhitaryan in his starting XI for either of Manchester United’s first two competitive games of the season.
Attacking midfielder Mkhitaryan, 27, became the second of the Reds’ four summer signings when he completed his switch from Borussia Dortmund early in July.
Last season’s Bundesliga Players’ Player of the Year started United’s first three pre-season encounters, against Wigan Athletic, his old club Dortmund and Galatasaray, before playing the second half of Wayne Rooney’s Testimonial against Everton.
But the Armenian is being eased into competitive action, coming off the bench in stoppage time in the Reds’ Community Shield win over Leicester City, and for the final 15 minutes of the Premier League opening-weekend victory at Bournemouth.
Asked in his Thursday press conference to reveal his thinking behind the decision, Mourinho provided an honest and detailed answer, reiterating that Mkhitaryan would be an important player for United this term.
"Options," the boss said. "I was reading the game against Leicester and I felt that we needed the speed of Jesse Lingard and, in the game against Bournemouth, that [Juan] Mata would help guard against their pressing really high. He could reach some spaces behind the line of the pressure and could be very useful for us.
"I decided to play [Wayne] Rooney in both games, close to Zlatan [Ibrahimovic], and I didn't start with Micki. When some managers buy players, they feel they have to protect their choices by playing the player all the time – I am not like this. Before me, comes the team and what I think is best for the team.
"I felt that Lingard and Mata were better options for the team in these matches, with the reality of the Premier League, so I made that decision.
"I keep saying the same thing, though, that Mkhitaryan is a super football player and will give us a lot during the season."
Deleted: 'indonesian wizard'
May 10, 2018 18:27:15 GMT
WhatsTheMata: Glad you think it's funny. When we get fucked around by the spells you just deleted you will take me seriously
May 19, 2018 11:57:48 GMT
No.7: Can this thread be unlocked or is it too early? not that i want Jose out now but i think were coming close to that time and want to hear peoples opinions on the subject.
Sept 20, 2018 10:15:25 GMT
cjjagzmoni: Pogba is a good lad minus the showboating..I think at Juventus he had Older players like Pirlo,Chiellini,Marchisio,Bonucci who shout and screams at him so he was more serious at Juve ,We dont have those type of leaders at United to caution him.
Nov 1, 2018 3:36:38 GMT
geo: Cardiff City - Huddersfield Town - Bournemouth - Newcastle United = 12 points. Back in the hunt. Come on.
Dec 19, 2018 17:55:18 GMT
geo: Job done as above - next step, stay unbeaten until we get to the PSG game.
Jan 3, 2019 23:17:42 GMT
theedge: Just discovered this forum. I live in Canada so don't get to many games, but I get to watch all the games live. Last 2 games attended in person: Europa League Final in Stockholm 2017, FA Cup Final 2016. Won the last 11 I've been to. I need to go more often
Apr 1, 2019 23:25:01 GMT
simes: Kazakhstan....well blow me down...been there many a time, not so bad a journey. FC Astana are not a bad outfit, gave Celtic a good run, and the National side beat Scotland. What do you reckon a walk over? BTW its easy to get to, I always use Air Astana.
Aug 30, 2019 14:11:59 GMT
snan1218: Hi,I'm very new member,the Red Devil from Malaysia.
Oct 10, 2019 9:16:40 GMT
shah: Hi i am shah been united fan from birec
Jan 24, 2020 8:33:02 GMT