Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho slammed Henrikh Mkhitaryan after he finally made his first-team comeback in the Europa League defeat at Fenerbahce.
The playmaker, signed from Borussia Dortmund in July, made his first United outing since the Manchester derby on September 10 when he replaced Marcus Rashford in the 61st minute of his side’s 2-1 loss in Turkey.
But despite the fact United were two goals down by the time Mkhitaryan made his entrance, Mourinho singled out his performance for criticism and demanded better if he is ever going to become a regular, even though he does not currently plan to sell the 27-year-old.
“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.”
United’s second straight away defeat in this season’s competition leaves them third in Group A with two matches to play, one point behind both Fenerbahce and Feyenoord.
Mourinho feels United’s defensive injury problems – with Eric Bailly, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Antonio Valencia among his absentees – are proving costly on their travels.
“I know that we have a problem and that away from home it’s difficult to play without two proper central defenders,” he said.
“Football starts with goalkeeper and two strong central defenders – we are playing with two left-backs.
“Poor [Daley] Blind is even playing central defender on the right, which is even more complicated. In this moment we lack that structure there.”
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