The Manchester United boss has recently slammed Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s contributions to the team and accused him of ‘disappearing’ in recent weeks.

José Mourinho’s tough love on players is not an uncommon sight in the dressing room. He has already had encounters with Luke Shaw and Anthony Martial, with the latter turning it around and featuring more prominently in the Portuguese boss’ line-ups.

There is normally some flak that goes along with a public shaming of players for the manager, but it seems that Manchester United fans are actually all in favour of what Mourinho said – which should ring alarm bells for Mkhitaryan.

“I was not happy with his last performances and I am not speaking about one or two,’ said Mourinho.

“I am speaking about three, four or five. He started the season very well and, after that, step by step, he was disappearing.

“His performance levels in terms of goal scoring, assists, high pressing, recovering the ball high on the pitch, bringing the team with him as a number 10, were decreasing step by step.”

And it is true. After three Premier League games this season, Mkhitaryan had recorded six assists – a whopping amount which said that the Armenian had come through his inconsistent first year and was ready to lead by example.

However, for the next nine matches he was involved in, Mkhitaryan has scored once and has not registered an assist. The drop in form has been absolutely woeful, and it is to no surprise to anyone that Mourinho has had to drop him for the 18-man match day squad on two occasions.

It has been disappointing to see Mkhitaryan’s form plummet so hard, especially when they needed him most in Paul Pogba’s absence. Instead, the former Borussia Dortmund playmaker hid in his shell and remained anonymous throughout those games.

Manchester United need more leaders on the pitch, but Mkhitaryan has shown no signs of leadership in recent weeks. He has cowered away on the pitch and has had no intentions of leading by example with the ball at his feet.

What is next for the Armenian?

There is now talk of Mesut Özil being the player to take over playmaker duties at Old Trafford, but any potential deal is a long way off completion with a number of European clubs vying for his signature, given he will be a free transfer.

Juan Mata is another attacking midfielder at the club, but has failed to impress since taking over from Mkhitaryan’s duties. There is a need for a consistent, world-class playmaker at United, but few are truly attainable in this current market.

Mkhitaryan simply has to get out of the rut he is in and go back to basics. In too many instances, the Armenian would try to take every man on when there was a clear and simple pass to be made to set his teammate through. It is selfish play and, in some cases, has been detrimental to the fortunes of the team’s performances.

If Manchester United are to truly contest in all competitions this season, which means going toe to toe with their across-town rivals, then Mourinho has to rely on senior players like Mkhitaryan. He is 28, not 21, and has to hold some responsibility for his poor performances.

It is about time that the Armenian bounces back and returns back to the form he was in earlier this season. Enough is enough.

Odds are correct at the time of posting

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