Henrikh Mkhitaryan arrived with his Manchester United teammates at The Lowry as the squad continued preparations for tonight’s Europa League tie against Feyenoord.
A number of players wore hoods as they arrived at the Manchester city centre hotel but photographers did not spot Luke Shaw, Morgan Schneiderlin or Ashley Young. Chris Smalling and Eric Bailly are both out injured.
United manager Jose Mourinho confirmed at the weekend Mkhitaryan, who has made just one appearance since his full debut against City in early September, would feature against the Eredivisie leaders.
Mkhitaryan left The Lowry – where he temporarily resides – and arrived an hour later smiling with United’s other squad members.
Paul Pogba also resides at The Lowry and Daley Blind lives nearby, so the pair often rendezvous with their teammates who arrived off the coach.
“I told him today that he is going to be involved in the game against Feyenoord,” Mourinho said about Mkhitaryan at the weekend. “He is trying. Obviously he is not happy but he is transforming his frustration in a good way, which is to close the mouth, work hard and try to adapt.
“I told him ‘this [against Arsenal] was not the game for you’ because I don’t think he needs 10 or 20 minutes from the bench. I said ‘I think you need a good game and you need to either start or, if not, to come for the second half’.
“He needs less pressure and better conditions for him to express his qualities.”
Mourinho is pleased with how United are playing but stressed the need to improve results after three consecutive home league draws.
“The results are not good enough, especially compared with how the team is playing,” he said. “We need four points to qualify – there is no space for a defeat.
“Playing well, the future can be bright. The team is happy with the direction where we are going in terms of the structure, dynamic and principles of our football.”
Mourinho reiterated he was amazed by the level of support he and the team had received from United’s matchgoers.
“Man United fans, what can I say?” Mourinho added. “I am amazed with the way they are with the team. We let them down a couple of times with a couple of really bad performances, but we never let them down in terms of the quality of the game, the commitment and the enthusiasm – never in that area.”
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has managed just three goals in two-and-a-half months but it has not dented his confidence.
“I shine for 24 hours,” Ibrahimovic boasted. “But if you want me to shine even more, I will try to do it for you. I’ve been in the game for 20 years, and while I’m getting older, I feel I am getting better as I get older.
“We have had some games where we have been dominating totally, but don’t get the result we deserve. If you call that unlucky, then we have been unlucky. We have to do more, we will do more and we will get the winning streak. Then we’ll feel better in this situation.”
“When I was at Ajax, Feyenoord won nothing. I have no feelings for Feyenoord, only for Ajax – I had a great time there and played with many great players.
Confirmed United squad members photographed at The Lowry: