The Armenian produced sporadic moments of brilliance during his first campaign at the club but only managed one goal against a top six side and didn’t record a single assist.
He has made an emphatic start to the 2017/18 campaign, however, by claiming five assists in just three games in the No.10 role.
And Mourinho, according to sources at ESPN, has told the 28-year-old to become the creative nucleus of United’s title bid this season by having an impact on big games this season.
The Portuguese clearly didn’t quite trust the Armenian for large parts of the 2016/17 campaign. Perhaps the role he served, especially against the bigger sides, wasn’t quite clear to either of them.
This time around, however, Mkhitaryan’s role is there for all to see: to form the axis of United’s attacking approach, breaking through the lines, finding pockets of space and releasing teammates all over the pitch. The indomitable platform of Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba has created a clearer avenue through which to get the ball to his feet, but how successful his proves to be against rivals is still unknown.
United notably struggled to create chances against the big guns last season, especially away from home, and Mourinho clearly sees Mkhitaryan – now settled in a clear role – as the ideal antidote.