Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho has hailed Henrikh Mkhitaryan as “magnificent” after his display in the 2-0 win over Wigan on Saturday.
The Red Devils were in pre-season action this weekend as they continue preparations for the new campaign, with Will Keane and Andreas Pereira getting on the scoresheet.
Both Mkhitaryan and Eric Bailly started the game, but it was the former Borussia Dortmund playmaker who impressed his manager the most and was in turn singled out for praise.
“Mkhitaryan is a top-class player and currently at the best stage for a footballer – 27/28 years old,” he told MUTV, as noted by Sky Sports.
“He is magnificent the way he thinks about football, he thinks very quickly and it’s so sweet how he touches the ball. He can play in different positions behind the striker. He doesn’t have the sharpness yet but his performance was very positive.”
Mkhitaryan scored 23 goals and provided 32 assists in 52 appearances in all competitions last season, and his creative ability in the final third will be seen as a crucial part of United’s play next year as they look to bring back some flair and excitement to the team.
Mourinho added that he didn’t need to analyse Bailly’s performance too much, as the reception that the defender received from the United supporters when he was substituted said it all.
In turn, the Portuguese tactician will be delighted with what he has seen from his players early on this summer, but naturally he will be keen to see them continue to improve their fitness and develop their chemistry on the pitch with his new ideas and tactics.
Having given numerous youngsters an opportunity to impress too, it’s clear that Mourinho is initially attempting to create a relaxed atmosphere in order to allow the entire squad to express themselves and show what they can contribute.
It’s so far so good for the 53-year-old as he’s getting the reaction that he wanted from the players, but there is still a long way to go in pre-season let alone the campaign itself, and it promises to be a gruelling year for the former Chelsea boss at Old Trafford as he bids to get them back to the top of English football.