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Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

One potential reason Mourinho so frustrated with Henrikh Mkhitaryan this season

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Henrikh Mkhitaryan was finally able to get on the pitch for Manchester United last week - appearing as a second-half substitute during the Red Devil's disappointing 2-1 defeat to Fenerbahce on Thursday night.

However, back in Premier League action on Sunday, the Armenian was relegated to watching the game from the stands as Jose Mourinho left him out of the match day squad once again. 

Mkhitaryan's lack of game time since arriving this summer from Borussia Dortmund has been the cause of much debate, with numerous theories put forward. Now, courtesy of The Times, we have another possible explanation for why the midfielder is in Mourinho's bad books.

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Bought for upwards of £25 million after being named the Bundesliga Player of the Year for 2015/16, Mkhitaryan was expected to slot straight into United's starting XI and wreak havoc as an attacking threat.

Instead, the 27-year-old has mustered just six appearances for the Old Trafford side. Trying to explain his regular absences, there has been talk of Mkhitaryan suffering from a lack of self-confidence, match fitness and it taking him longer than expected to acclimatise to the English game.

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Now, The Times' chief football correspondent Oliver Kay has shed some light on the situation by revealing one area in which the Armenia international has left his manager increasingly frustrated.

Mkhitaryan has been frustrated by a lack of first-team opportunities," Kay wrote on Monday (subscription required).

"And Mourinho likewise by what he has felt is a lack of physical intensity relative to some of the Armenian’s team-mates."

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Not exactly a man mountain like some of his fellow new arrivals at United over the summer - see Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba - Mkhitaryan was never expected to be a dominant physical presence in the Red Devils midfield.

His game is more about finesse and picking out the perfect pass than overpowering the opposition.

Clearly, though, Mourinho expects a certain level of "physical intensity" from all of his squad and, to this point at least, the former Dortmund star is falling well below the Portuguese manager's expectations.

Red Devils supports have, in recent weeks, been desperate to see Mkhitaryan given more playing time and have been unable to understand why he has been frozen out come game day.

This update suggests that it is the player himself who needs to buck his ideas up if he wants to break into the United starting XI anytime soon.

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With the Manchester club currently going through a difficult run of results - their 3-1 win over Swansea this weekend a welcome respite - they can ill afford to have any players coasting through games.

Until Mkhitaryan can show more intensity on the training ground against his teammates, he will struggle to get his chance to shine against United's opponents.

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Topics:
Wayne Rooney
Football
Premier League
Henrikh Mkhitaryan
Paul Scholes
Manchester United
Ryan Giggs
Jose Mourinho

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