Manchester United have two players who get unfairly criticised – Henrikh Mkhitaryan
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Manchester United duo Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford are unfairly criticised, according to Henrikh Mkhitaryan. The Armenia international moved to Old Trafford back in the summer transfer window of 2016. However, he quit the club 18 months later, deciding to join Arsenal as part of a swap deal that saw Alexis Sanchez move in the opposite direction.
Manchester United thought they were onto a winner when they signed Mkhitaryan in 2016.
He’d lit up the Bundesliga with Borussia Dortmund the previous year and looked like he was ready to take Old Trafford by storm as a result.
That didn’t happen, however, with the Armenia international struggling during his time at the Theatre of Dreams.
And, speaking to The Athletic, Mkhitaryan reflected on his time with the club and insisted he enjoyed his time with the Red Devils – despite Jose Mourinho regularly leaving him on the bench.
“At that time, he was one of the most successful coaches in the world,” he said.
“I think he was the coach with the most trophies.
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“So that was a different experience. It was very hard but I learned a lot as well.
“I learned how to defend, how to help the team. It was not only about scoring goals and making assists. It was more about the team winning so it doesn’t matter who scored, we had to win together.
“It didn’t matter who made the assist we must always be happy that we won the game.”
Mkhitaryan also expressed a belief that Pogba and Rashford are unfairly criticised, adding: “It doesn’t matter if you are Marcus Rashford, Paul Pogba or someone else.
“They will see something in you, small details to criticise.
“When Paul was playing everyone was criticising him for his hairstyle. I don’t think that has something to do with football, that’s his personal life.
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“If he plays bad, criticise him for his bad performance, not his hairstyle. That’s not good. It has nothing to do with football.
“And you know, some people that don’t know him, some people who haven’t trained with him or played with him they don’t see these kinds of things.
“You have to be in the team, you have to see the way he trains, the way he thinks, the way he suffers and then say if he played good or he played bad.”
The forward, who is currently strutting his stuff for Roma over in Serie A, still stays in contact with the pair.
“Paul Pogba, David de Gea, Juan Mata, Marcus Rashford, Eric Bailly,” he said.
“We send each other messages, I wouldn’t say every day or every month but we do when there’s an opportunity. There’s always a reason to congratulate each other.”
Mkhitaryan also defended Romelu Lukaku, who left United for Inter Milan back in the summer transfer window of 2019.
“A lot of people criticised Romelu when he was in Manchester,” he said.
“But I won’t agree. He was doing very well and not only in Manchester. He showed that at West Bromwich and Everton and now at Inter.
“I think the only thing is who you get as a coach, especially for a striker because you have to score goals and now he’s feeling comfortable with (Antonio) Conte at Inter.
“He’s doing great (35 goals and assists in all competitions) and he proved everyone wrong that has a different opinion. I’m very happy for him because he deserves it.”
Mkhitaryan also opened up on playing under Jurgen Klopp at Dortmund, hailing the Liverpool boss for his management style.
“I met Jurgen Klopp who had a different philosophy to Mircea Lucescu,” he recalled.
“Klopp was more friendly with the players. He was more like a psychologist and tried to give you confidence even if you played badly or made mistakes.
“At that time, I had sad behaviour. When I was playing bad I was closing myself (off), I was not talking to anyone.
“I felt guilty that we lost a game or played badly because of my mistake. I was putting pressure on myself but Klopp made me understand that football is about 11 players, it’s the team that wins or loses.
“It’s not about one player. You can make mistakes, no one is safe from mistakes. That’s part of life, so he helped me take the pressure off myself a lot and to always think positive.”
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