Football

Mkhitaryan: Don't blame Mourinho for my poor start

EUROPA LEAGUE GROUP A
ZORYA LUHANSK MAN UNITED

He arrived at Old Trafford from Borussia Dortmund with high expectations after being named the Bundesliga Players' Player of the Year for 2015-16.

But Henrikh Mkhitaryan has struggled to adapt to life in the Premiership and was hauled off at half-time in his first start for Manchester United - a 2-1 derby defeat by Manchester City.

After the match, Mourinho said Mkhitaryan was guilty of turning in a "really poor individual performance".

The 27-year-old feels that he has only himself to blame for taking longer than expected to earn a first-team berth under Mourinho.

"There was no bad relation with him (Mourinho), it was always good but the problem wasn't him, it was me," Mkhitaryan told Sky Sports News.

"I was thinking that I would be a first-team player but, when I arrived, I saw that there were 25 players fighting for their places and I understood that it wasn't going to be easy.

"I had a bad game against Man City, but I kept working.

"I have done a great job to get my chance and I did it a really long way until I start playing."

Mkhitaryan earned a standing ovation after assisting two goals in last month's 4-1 League Cup win over West Ham before turning in another fine performance from the start against Everton (1-1) last Sunday.

He now hopes to earn a regular place in Mourinho's plans.

"Now that I have got my chance, I will keep it, I will hold it, because it is very important for me to play, to be a part of Manchester United," said Mkhitaryan, who is in the travelling squad to face Zorya Luhansk in the Europa League tomorrow morning (Singapore time).

United need only a draw against Zorya to qualify for the knockout stages of the Europa League. If Feyenoord fail to win against Fenerbahce, then United would progress even with defeat in Ukraine.

Captain Wayne Rooney and defender Eric Bailly are part of the travelling squad, although Michael Carrick, Antonio Valencia and Matteo Darmian have been left out.

The omission of Memphis Depay and Morgan Schneiderlin underlines how far their stock has fallen.

Meanwhile, Uefa has downplayed security fears surrounding United's encounter with Zorya despite recent attacks on travelling fans in Ukraine.

Around 900 supporters are expected to make the 4,800km round trip to watch the finale.

The match is being held at the Stadion Chornomorets in Odessa rather than Luhansk due to the political problems in eastern Ukraine.

Those travelling have been warned by United about the threat, but Uefa has expressed confidence that those attending will be safe. - WIRE SERVICES.

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