Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Henrikh Can Still Save His United Career

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Henrikh Can Still Save His United Career

Article excerpt

JOSE Mourinho has not made a habit of saying sorry down the years, but he reserved an apology for Henrikh Mkhitaryan in the bowels of Old Trafford at around 8.49pm on Friday night - in front of all of his players in the home dressing room.

The Portuguese knew his side needed something, a spark, a focal point, to find the breakthrough against a stubborn Derby defence in the FA Cup third round tie and turned to £75m man Romelu Lukaku.

Mkhitaryan was the fall guy. Mourinho felt having the pace of Marcus Rashford on the left wing gave United more of a threat despite the 20-year-old's own struggles up front in the first half.

The Armenian could only watch on as Jesse Lingard stepped up in his place in the No.10 role to break the deadlock with a trademark thunderbolt before his replacement, Lukaku, sealed United's place in the fourth round of the FA Cup at the death.

Mourinho's decision had been vindicated, but that did not make it any easier.

Ironically, following a worrying start, Mkhitaryan had grown into the half by simply relying on his instincts. There was even one marvellous cross which landed perfectly on Rashford's head, without even looking up to see if he was there.

Had Rashford found the back of the net, rather than Scott Carson's near post, Mkhitaryan would have done what he has done for much of his United career - pulled a moment of magic out of the hat when he was seemingly destined for another anonymous display. But that fivemonth wait for an assist goes on.

Just a few minutes later, a scooped through ball found Luke Shaw in space Understandably, 28-year-worryingly confidence, not the Ciaran as he romped down the flank, but the left-back's cross did not beat the first man.

Those highlights came after a forgotten name reared its head on social media feeds again. Bebé, the infamous Portuguese street footballer who Sir Alex Ferguson admitted he never saw play before splurging £7.4m on him in 2010.

Mkhitaryan - Armenia's greatest ever sportsman, the £27. …

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