Jose Mourinho has hailed Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s professionalism following an upturn in the Armenian’s form after a difficult start to life at Manchester United.
Mkhitaryan joined United from Borussia Dortmund for a transfer fee in the region of €40 million, but initially struggled to live up to the high expectations at Old Trafford.
He has broken into the starting XI in recent weeks, though, and Mourinho has praised the 27-year-old’s attitude.
“We bought him because I asked the club to do it, because I liked the player and analysed him,” said the Portuguese.
“So it would be extra frustrating for me if everything went wrong. But he needed a period of adaptation, at every level, and in that period he was a great professional.
“Maybe another guy in his position would look for excuses and blame the manager, blame the pitch, blame the weather, blame something else, like many players do these days. But he was quiet, closed his mouth, worked really hard, waited for his opportunity and was playing really well now.”
Mkhitaryan faces a brief spell on the sidelines after picking up a knock in the 1-0 win over Tottenham at the weekend and Mourinho hopes his absence will not have a negative effect on his recent progress.
“Hopefully a few matches out of action will not mean the end of this development,” he added.
“Hopefully he can play Christmas. We believe it is possible. When I saw him on the stretcher I thought was more serious. When I saw the tackle on TV I was a bit scared.
“It is a pity because he is going to miss matches in his best period.”
Mourinho is not worried Mkhitaryan’s absence will hurt United, though, as he feels they have plenty of alternatives heading into Wednesday’s match against Crystal Palace.
“The position is not a problem,” he continued.
“Wayne Rooney, Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard, Ashley Young, Memphis Depay – it is a position where we have lots of players.”