Henrikh Mkhitaryan may return from injury in Manchester United’s Europa League match at FC Rostov and that would be good news for every Reds supporter, as well as a group of Armenian journalists who have driven over 1,300 kilometres to attend Thursday’s tie in Russia.
MUTV’s Stewart Gardner interviewed Robert Gasparyan from Vivaro News before the press pack amusingly sang the ever-popular Mkhitaryan chant.
Firstly, after travelling so far, how much do you hope to see Henrikh in action?
“We heard about the injury and hoped to see him here. We didn’t know if Mourinho would pick him up for this Europa League game against FC Rostov, but we came here and finally on Tuesday we knew Mkhitaryan would be on board. We heard Mourinho say in his press conference that he doesn’t know whether it is possible for Mkhitaryan to play because the conditions are awful. Maybe he will keep Mkhitaryan for the second half and let him play for 20 to 25 minutes, because there is a very important game against Chelsea that is more important than the first leg against Rostov.”
Can you give us an idea of how much interest there is in Mkhitaryan back in Armenia?
“The transfer of Mkhitaryan from Dortmund to Manchester United was like a boom for Armenia! Everybody expected he would move to Juventus or Arsenal, but he decided on Manchester United so Mkhitaryan has made a step up in his career. It was amazing for us to know and hear about an Armenian player who plays in England, the best league in the world, at Manchester United. There was a hard situation for Mkhitaryan after the Manchester derby when he was not playing for two months, but we hoped that one day he would start playing and show he is world-class.”
How difficult was it getting to Rostov?
“By plane it is much easier for us, but we came by car here and drove 1,300 kilometres across Armenia, into Georgia and then Russia. We went through many passport controls, it was awful, but we got here finally and now we hope that Mkhitaryan will play. We hope to see his best play and, here, there are many Armenian people. Forty per cent of citizens here are Armenians so it is very interesting for the people of Rostov. There are Armenian flags, people screaming Mkhitaryan, singing the famous Sting song [Englishman in New York]. There is a very big interest in Mkhitaryan.”
Finally, as somebody who knows Russian football, what do you expect from the game?
“The draw will be a really good result for Manchester United, because we know about the field. I hope that MU will win, but on 9 March when the fields of Russia are not in a good condition then maybe the draw will not be a bad result. The next game will be in Manchester and, there, I think United will win.”