Jose Mourinho has revealed that he apologised to Henrikh Mkhitaryan for taking him off at half time during Manchester United’s 2-0 win over Derby County.
The Armenian has been linked with a January move to Inter Milan and Borussia Dortmund following a string of disappointing performances at No.10.
And he once again failed to impress against Derby, seemingly unable to find his passing range and lacking bite in the final third.
He was taken off at half time, but Mourinho, speaking after the game, insisted that it was a tactical move rather than a reaction to an underwhelming display.
Jose on Mkhitaryan: "Unfair. I had to sacrifice a player. I apologised to him in front of the players."
— Simon Stone (@sistoney67) January 5, 2018
The 54-year-old saw that United were failing to pin the visitors back regularly enough and decided to throw on Romelu Lukaku, back from a head injury, to invoke some more pressure, using Marcus Rashford on the left hand side instead.
And the ploy worked: Lukaku kept Derby’s back four pegged back and it provided Lingard with the space to fire home a wonderstrike.
But Mourinho is ignoring the elephant in the room here. Mkhitatryan’s confidence is dwindling and he seems more anonymous with each game that passes, and the 54-year-old – despite Lingard’s rise to form – needs to locate a replacement over the next few weeks.