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Monday 26 June 2017

Mkhitaryan: I learned fast

United winger glad to start after freeze-out

Henrikh Mkhitaryan of Manchester United. Photo: Getty
Henrikh Mkhitaryan of Manchester United. Photo: Getty

Henrikh Mkhitaryan has admitted that he expected to start more games for Manchester United this season but insists he holds no grudges against manager Jose Mourinho.

After being hauled off at half-time of the Manchester derby last September, the Armenian drifted to the periphery of the United squad as he struggled to adapt to the nature of English football.

Speaking last October, Mourinho suggested that his player needed time to acclimatise: "Some players find it very easy whereas others need more time. They need time to feel the intensity, the aggression, the game without the ball and the competitiveness."

But after waiting 75 days to make his second start in a United shirt, the 27-year-old has finally started to prove his worth and recently impressed against Feyenoord, West Ham and Everton.

Despite having to wait for the opportunity, Mkhitaryan insists there has been no bad blood between him and Mourinho.

"There was no bad relation with him (Mourinho), it was always good but the problem wasn't him, it was me," he said.

"Now I understand why I have got my chance and I will keep it, I will hold it, because it is very important for me to play, to be a part of Manchester United.

"I was thinking that I would be here as a starting line-up player but when I arrived I saw that there were 25 players fighting for their place and I understood that it wasn't going to be easy.

"I had a bad game against Manchester City but that is in the past so I kept working. I have done a great job to get my chance back and I think I did it a really long way until I start playing."

"The manager has a lot of choice, he has five or six players in that position but I know that playing now I know what I have done bad in the past and what good I can do in the future."

In the wake of Mkhitaryan's recent performance against West Ham in the EFL Cup, Mourinho praised the player for his "evolution" on the pitch.

United prepare for tomorrow's vital Europa League game away to Zorya Luhansk.

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