Paul Scholes: Jose Mourinho must replace Juan Mata with Henrikh Mkhitaryan

by Leo Nieboer

Former Manchester United midfielder Paul Scholes believes Jose Mourinho ought to replace Juan Mata with Henrikh Mkhitaryan in the starting XI.

The Armenian, deployed on the left hand side during Man United’s 2-0 win over Zorya Luhansk, once again grabbed the headlines with another sensational performance.

Mkhitaryan’s goal in the 48th minute – a precise finish to round off a superb defence-splitting run – was enough to settle a gritty encounter in Odessa.

Scholes, speaking on BT Sport after the game, claimed that Mourinho should prioritise the in-form Mkhitaryan over Mata in midfield.

“Three or four weeks ago I thought it was a matter of time before you get him playing and he will start producing,” he said. 

“And we are seeing that now with a little run of games he’s producing. What he has different from Mata is that bit of pace. Mata’s got the trick, has he quite got the pace to go past people?

“I don’t think he has, I think Mkhitaryan has got the trick and the pace to go past people and produce what he did tonight.”

Scholes’ prospective managerial swap contains something of an embedded assumption: that Mkhitaryan and Mata cannot play in the same team. Then again, Scholes is one of the few people still adamant that Wayne Rooney should be playing in the No.10 role every week, leaving the aforementioned pair to fight over one spot.

I’d like to propose something different. Just hear me out, Paul. Why not drop Rooney, place Mkhitaryan – the club’s best No.10 by a country mile – in the No.10 role, play Mata as an inverted right winger whilst deploying either Anthony Martial or Marcus Rashford as a more orthodox, bursting-towards-the-byline winger?

Such an attacking trio would, one feels, precipitate a more dynamic, balanced combination going forward.

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