Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has explained how Henrikh Mkhitaryan has fallen way down his attacking pecking order having been dropped from his match day squad in recent matches.
Mkhitaryan enjoyed an explosive start to the season, laying on five assists for his teammates in the opening three matches of the season but his form has abandoned him since then. Coinciding with the period where Paul Pogba was out of the team through injury, the Armenia international struggled and was taken off before the 66-minute mark in five consecutive Premier League matches before being dropped from the team completely.
The 28-year-old has been left out of seven of the last eight United match day squads, named in the squad for the 1-0 win over Brighton on 25 November, providing an ineffective cameo for the final 19 minutes of the match.
Jesse Lingard has benefited from his absence, starring in recent wins over Watford and Arsenal as Mourinho tweaked his formation slightly. The England international started again in the win over Bournemouth on Wednesday [13 December], again joining Anthony Martial and Romelu Lukaku in attack with Juan Mata and Marcus Rashford also featuring in the narrow victory.
With so many options at his disposal, Mourinho admits there is simply no room for Mkhitaryan at the moment, with his other options simply doing more to demand a squad role.
"I can only have six [outfield] players on the bench and I try to have some balance on the bench – I had two defenders and [Daley] Blind who can play in different areas. I had Ashley Young to cover me all of the wing and the wing-back position," Mourinho told a press conference after the win over Eddie Howe's side.
"I had [Ander] Herrera as a midfield player, Zlatan [Ibrahimovic] as a striker and Marcus [Rashford] as a second striker and winger. I played [Anthony] Martial, [Juan] Mata and [Jesse] Lingard in the team. To have Micki means that I don't have one of them and, in this moment, I believe the other ones they deserve [the chance to play]."