Mkhitaryan promises United fight on four fronts
Henrikh Mkhitaryan insists Manchester United are taking all four competitions they are involved in seriously as they struggle to cope with a demanding fixture schedule.
Jose Mourinho’s club is the only one in England still retaining an interest in a quartet of competitions — the Premier League, Europa League, FA Cup and the League Cup, in which they can look forward to a Wembley final against Southampton next month.
Their success means United could face as many as 67 games, should they advance to the finals of the other two cup competitions, and has led Mourinho to criticise the English fixture schedule as “nonsense”.
But after a weekend in which a number of Premier League teams were eliminated from the FA Cup after choosing weakened line-ups, Mkhitaryan claimed United want to succeed in every tournament.
“We are taking all the competitions seriously,” he said. “For Manchester United, every cup is very important.
“A trophy is a trophy. It doesn’t matter if it is the League Cup, the FA Cup or the Europa League. We want to do our best to try to win them all.”
United face drop candidates Hull in the Premier League at Old Trafford on Wednesday, with Mourinho again likely to make sweeping changes to his team selection.
The weekend FA Cup win over Wigan saw the United manager make nine changes from his previous game, a League Cup semi-final, also against Hull, and hand debuts to young substitutes Axel Tuanzebe and goalkeeper Joel Pereira.
Despite the Portuguese boss having expressed concerns about the lack of depth in his squad, Mkhitaryan claimed the competition for places, and the emergence of young players at Old Trafford, was healthy.
“It’s great for them to play their first game,” said the Armenian. “You know as a player that, when young players come into the squad, you have to help them and offer them some advice and I thought they both did well on what is a great experience for them.”
– ‘Good impact’ –
After a tough beginning to his United career, in which Mkhitaryan did not start a league game for nearly three months, the £26 million ($32 million, 30 million euros) pre-season signing from Borussia Dortmund has emerged as a key member of Mourinho’s squad.
“Since he came into the team, we and Micki himself thought he was ready,” said Mourinho.
“He had a good impact immediately, then he had a break with the injury against Tottenham, and then he came back and played quite well. So we are happy with him.”
England full-back Luke Shaw was handed his first start in two months against Wigan but is far from certain to retain his place when United return to league action.
And Bastian Schweinsteiger, who started a game for the first time in over a year, is unlikely to be involved either despite Mourinho having confirmed that the German has been named in his squad, submitted to UEFA, for the knockout stages of the Europa League
Meanwhile Andy Robertson could become the latest player to leave Hull in January after Burnley launched a £10 million bid for the left-back.
The Tigers have already sold Jake Livermore and Robert Snodgrass for a combined £20 million ($25 million) during this month’s transfer window, and they could now be joined by the Scotland international.
Hull have been linked with Sporting Lisbon’s Dutch defender Marvin Zeegelaar as a potential replacement ahead of the January 31 transfer deadline.
Robertson’s former club Dundee United are entitled to 10 percent of any profit on the 22-year-old, who moved to the KCOM Stadium for £2.85 million in 2014.
Marco Silva’s side travel to Old Trafford occupying a place in the relegation zone after one victory in their last 11 league games.
The Portuguese coach is desperate to hang onto the likes of Robertson after this month’s high-profile departures, and he said: “We need to sign players, not for players to leave.”
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