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06th Jan 2018

José Mourinho apologises to Henrikh Mkhitaryan for half-time substitution

It hasn't been plain sailing for the Armenian at Old Trafford.

Reuben Pinder

They have a complex relationship.

José Mourinho’s relationship with Henrikh Mkhitaryan since his arrival at Manchester United has been up and down to say the least.

In the early stages of Mkhitaryan’s first season at Old Trafford, he was largely ignored by the manager. The midfielder had reportedly struggled to settle, fighting homesickness which was affecting his performances.

Eventually, the midfielder fought his way into the starting XI and scored the winning goal in the Europa League final against Ajax last summer. But his form has been streaky, and recently he has slipped well down the pecking order behind Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata and Anthony Martial.

But José Mourinho gave the Armenian a chance to impress last night with a start against Derby in the 3rd round of the FA Cup, but hooked him at half time. One would be forgiven for thinking this signified the end of the road for Mkhitaryan’s time at Old Trafford.

However, Mourinho has come out and apologised to his player for the harsh substitution. The Portuguese told reporters:

“Didn’t like what I did. He didn’t deserve it, he was playing well, he wasn’t playing bad.”

My feeling was just that [Marcus] Rashford is not going to score a goal and because of that I’m not going to lose time and I’m going to play Romelu, so then I had to sacrifice a player.

“Mkhi was the one that I sacrificed but it’s something that I don’t normally do but I did at half-time and apologised to him in front of other people because he didn’t deserve it.”

Mkhitaryan has been linked with a move away from United after a relatively disappointing year and a half at the Manchester club, and could still leave in the summer, but this half-time hooking was not punishing a bad performance, according to Mourinho.

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