After sitting out last night’s Manchester derby despite being at full fitness, the Sun claim that £25 million summer signing Henrikh Mkhitaryan could already be on his way out of the club in January as Jose Mourinho prepares to cut his losses and sell the playmaker who has failed to impress him since his arrival at Old Trafford in the summer, with a thigh injury not helping his cause in recent weeks.
Substituted at half-time in the Premier League derby in his only start to date under Jose Mourinho, Mkhitaryan has struggled to convince Red Devils fans after scouts had alerted the manager to concerns over his lack of strength which may see him struggle to adapt to Premier League football, a prediction which appears to have become reality.
However, last night the headlines were all about Juan Mata as the Spaniard scored the winning goal in an impressive Manchester derby victory to put United through to the EFL Cup quarter-final at the cost of Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. Jose Mourinho discussed the game after the final whistle, saying:
“It is especially important because it was a way to create a better feeling for the absolutely wonderful fans that I have never seen before in my life. After the defeat at Chelsea, to have this support is incredible. The love that these people have for the club is bigger than the result, it is bigger than the success and the trophies. It is real love and it is real passion. I am very happy for them, I don’t care about myself.”
Mourinho clearly appreciates the support he received from the Old Trafford faithful after a shock humiliation at Stamford Bridge on Sunday which could easily have sparked a backlash. The Portuguese boss has explained that he is struggling to adapt to hotel life in Manchester and he is clearly grateful for the support of his fans.
That victory over Manchester City has put United into the quarter-final stage of the EFL Cup where they will now face West Ham United. The Red Devils fell to a 3-2 defeat in what was the final game at Upton Park last season, but the Hammers have failed to win at Old Trafford since 2007, with two wins in 2001 their only other victories in Manchester since 1986 as part of just eight victories in the post-war era.
The tie should be a winnable one given Slaven Bilic’s sides’ form of late, but they did spring a surprise on Chelsea last night to go through and seem to have found form with a number of key players returning from injury.
Featured Image: All rights reserved by Craig Ballantyne.