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.
"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."
Knowing how dependend Mkhitaryan is on his confidence, I wonder why Mou risks him losing it by not playing him. Mata did play well, ok but with the squad size and quality we have now Soton would be the perfect opportunity to ease him into the team. A player he desperately wanted and paid much money on not starting in the first 3 competitive matches is something making me think there is someting going on behind the scenes which is goes beyond the tactical reasons Mou gave the media.
I think right now we have a too big squad so he's trying his best to rotate players and get everyone some playing time. Once we start getting more matches with Europa league and what not we can even form two separate squads. Just look at that reserve team:
Jose pleased with him last night and hints at Sunday start.
The boss told reporters: "He just needs now to replicate this kind of performance in the Premier League. The Premier League is different – he needs one more step. Obviously now confidence levels are higher.
"This performance gives him the right to believe that he can play the next match again and he needs to replicate this kind of performance in the Premier League with more physicality and more aggression.
"He needs a little bit more of that but the quality – we know why we bought him, we know we were buying a player with a high level of technical quality," he added. "[He is] very intelligent and very bright, the way he reads the game, so good for him because the performance was good."
Saw that. Not sure he trusts him enough for the PL yet, neither do I to be honest, but I think West Ham would be a perfect chance for him to come off the bench around the 60th minute and prove me wrong.