Jose Mourinho has left Henrikh Mkhitaryan out of the last two match-day squads in an attempt to produce a response from the out-of-form Armenian, according to reports.
Mkhitaryan enjoyed a superb start to the season, claiming five assists and two goals, but has recently disappointed with a series of anonymous display at No.10 – most notably at Anfield and Stamford Bridge.
And he was left out of the match-day squad for Man United’s 4-1 win over Newcastle United last weekend before once again watching from the stands in Switzerland on Wednesday.
According to the Mirror‘s David McDonnell, Mourinho has kept the playmaker firmly in the dark in order to evince a reaction over the next few weeks.
Supporters were chastising the 54-year-old for doing the exact same thing this time last year, but nobody needs to question him this time around.
Mkhitaryan is a remarkable talent. Anybody who has seen the Armenian in full flow, turning opponents and galvanising attacking movements, will tell you that he can thrive at the highest level.
But he can often grow complacent – aloof to the occasion, almost. And his demeanour over the last few weeks connote a man who believes his place at No.10 is more or less guaranteed.
And Mourinho, in response, is absolutely right to make it clear to Mkhitaryan – and, by extension, the rest of his squad – that you need to fight for a place in his side regardless of who you are.