Manchester United midfielder Mkhitaryan will thrive under Mourinho, Armenia ex-coach says

New United signing Henrikh Mkhitaryan will thrive under Jose Mourinho’s playing style and training methods, according to former Armenia coach Raymond Verheijen, according to Manchester Evening News

The midfielder, who is Armenia’s all-time top scorer, made the £26 million move to Old Trafford from Borussia Dortmund last week.

The 27-year-old is expected to slot in on the right wing of Mourinho’s new-look side and could make his debut in that famous red shirt against Wigan on Saturday.

Although he is the first Armenian to ever play in the Premier League, Verheijen believes Mkhitaryan’s time at Dortmund will stand him in good stead in adjusting to the rigours of English football.

“What I think has been very smart is that he went from Shakhtar to Dortmund and from Dortmund to United.” he told M.E.N. Sport.

“I think the Bundesliga has made him sufficiently strong to take the next step to the Premier League. He will need time to adapt, but I trust Mourinho and his staff to let him gradually adapt to that level.”

Known for his blistering pace, Mkhitaryan once joked that had he not made it as a footballer, he would have been a sprinter instead.

This was a quality that struck Verheijen, who has also worked with Manchester City, the Netherlands, Barcelona and Russia, when he was involved with the Armenia national team in 2012.

“There is one characteristic of him that I have almost never seen with other players and that is the fact that he has an acceleration after an acceleration,” he said.

“When he starts dribbling, he accelerates quickly but then, just before somebody tries to challenge him, he can accelerate for a second time. That is something that I thought was very special.

“That is a talent that he has which makes him difficult to defend, especially in the counter-attack. United need to make sure he gets the ball as quickly as possible.”

One of Mourinho’s hallmarks is “his less is more” approach to training, with extensive ball work sessions favoured over fitness focused drills without the ball.

Verheijen previously criticised Mourinho’s predecessors, Louis van Gaal and David Moyes, for over-training United’s players and feels Mourinho’s approach will get more out of Mkhitaryan et al.

“If you look with Chelsea winning the title two years ago, they played with the same XI in almost every game,” he said.

“I think the same will happen this year with United. He will have significantly less injuries than Van Gaal and Moyes and he will play with the same XI much more often.

“When you do play and train with the same XI more often, the communication between your players and the tactical understanding between your players increases dramatically.”

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