Jose Mourinho has warned Henrikh Mkhitaryan to up his game after ending his 54-day exile in Manchester United’s Europa League defeat at Fenerbahce.
A difficult week was compounded as United wilted at the imposing Sukru Saracoglu Stadium, where Moussa Sow scored a sensational overhead kick before Jeremain Lens scored an outstanding second-half free-kick.
Wayne Rooney’s superb late goal was merely a consolation – albeit one that equalled Ruud van Nistelrooy’s 38-goal record as United’s all-time European top scorer – and Mourinho admitted his side did not deserve to win in Istanbul, accusing them of treating the match like a “summer friendly”.
Mkhitaryan was not guilty of that lax start given he was a 61st-minute introduction, but his manager clearly expects more from the big-money summer signing.
It was the Armenian’s first appearance since September 10 and Mourinho wants the former Borussia Dortmund attacking midfielder to improve quickly.
“He has to do more, it is as simple as that,” the Portuguese said after the 2-1 defeat.
“We have big expectations in the club. We have lots of players for these positions and he has to play better than (Juan) Mata, he has to play better than (Jesse) Lingard, he has to play better than (Anthony) Martial. He has to play better than them.
“It is as simple as that. Every manager in the world wants to win matches. Every manager in the world wants to play the players he thinks can help the team more and I am no different.”
Mkhitaryan’s display will have disappointed the manager as much as fellow summer signing Paul Pogba’s first-half withdrawal following a heavy tackle.
The leg injury will be assessed ahead of Sunday’s match at Swansea, where Ander Herrera serves a suspension along with Mourinho himself.
The Portuguese is to serve a one-match touchline ban after being hit by a Football Association misconduct charge and admitting using abusive/and or insulting words towards a match official against Burnley.
Mourinho will be allowed to give his pre-match and half-time team talk in the Liberty Stadium dressing room on Sunday, as well as share messages with the United bench.
Whether those commands get across is another matter, though, having felt like his players had ignored his advice in Turkey.
“What disappointed me more is that I have quite a big experience of playing against Turkish teams,” Mourinho said.
“I played twice with Real Madrid and twice with Chelsea, I played with Porto too, so I pass to the players all my experience.
“And my experience is that when you play against them in our home, it’s easy. It’s always 2-0, 3-0, 4-0, it’s easy.
“You come to Turkey and it is completely different story, so I told them to wait for that, told them not to be focused on the easy game we had at Old Trafford and to be ready for a completely different game.
“We started the game sleeping.”