Manchester United’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan has told Sport Bild that manager Jose Mourinho is “a special coach and expects special things.”
Mkhitaryan, 28, joined United from Dortmund in the summer but endured a difficult spell early on under Mourinho, failing to play a Premier League game for over two months after a disappointing showing in September’s 2-1 defeat to Manchester City.
He came back into Mourinho’s plans after impressing in the 4-0 Europa League win over Feyenoord in late November and has since established himself as an important part of the United side.
Mourinho said after the 3-0 win over Leicester City on Sunday that he had been protecting the attacking midfielder when leaving him out of the team, and Mkhitaryan expressed his appreciation for the manager.
“I believe that he has trust in me and that’s why I always want to give my best on the pitch for him,” the Armenia international said. “He’s a special coach and expects special things, you just need to know that.”
Bastian Schweinsteiger has also managed to force his way back into the first-team reckoning at United, having been so far down the pecking order when Mourinho arrived that he was written off as an asset in the club’s accounts.
While his game time remains limited, with just three appearances in the domestic cups so far, he has been restored to United’s Europa League squad and Mourinho has said he now views the midfielder as an “option.”
Mkhitaryan said: “I am delighted that he gets his chances now. He knows exactly what has to be done on the pitch. I can only say positive things about him, he’s got a great character.”
Asked if the German is too slow, he replied: “Basti has always played like this, whether that be at Bayern, the national team or here at Manchester. It has nothing to do with slow or fast.
“I can’t say what Jose Mourinho exactly plans for him.”
Mkhitaryan was one of four summer signings Mourinho made in the summer, along with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paul Pogba and Eric Bailly.
Ibrahimovic had left his previous club, Paris Saint-Germain, by saying he “came like a king, left like a legend” but Mkhitaryan said: “For many, he’s a king. To me, he’s a normal person just like me and you. A great guy.
“It’s a lot of fun to play with him and other stars like Wayne Rooney. I learn something new every day.”