Moreso than any other individual player, Henrikh Mkhitaryan was emblematic of Manchester United’s season. He was maddeningly inconsistent; some days looking like the best player in the league, other days the worst player on the pitch. His season was baffling (left out of the team for a quarter of the season when the team was crying out for creativity), brilliant (one breathtaking goal after another), and totally underwhelming (weeks at a time spent looking he couldn’t remotely be arsed).
No other player in the United team has had as many moments of outstanding quality. Mkhitaryan claimed the club’s goal of the month award in in December, January, February, April, and May. He was United’s second top scorer in all competitions, chipping in with 12 goals, at least half of them absolute belters. Five assists isn’t the greatest return for a creative player, but when Mkhitaryan picked up the ball between the lines, he generated a sense of anticipation more than anyone else. When he was on, it always felt like he could make something happen at any time.
Our Goal of the Season - we still don't know how @HenrikhMkh did it! #MUFCPOTY pic.twitter.com/dmWgVJYOrW— Manchester United (@ManUtd) May 18, 2017
With all those highlights, Mkhitaryan’s season still feels like something of a let down. The Armenian didn’t make his first start until a month into the season, strangely enough in the Manchester derby. He was awful - and he wasn’t alone in that regard - and was hooked by Mourinho at half time. After that, the then reigning Bundesliga Player of the Year wasn’t seen again in a United shirt for another two months - despite the likes of Jesse Lingard and the remains of Wayne Rooney regularly turning out for the team during that time.
When he was finally restored to the team, he was near unplayable - either a sign of Mourinho’s brilliant man-management or of the stupidity of his initial stubbornness, depending on your perspective. Really though, Mkhi’s purple patch only lasted for about a month or two, after which he turned in a series of largely indifferent performances.
He did seem to save his best performances for the Europa League at least, which turned out alright, all things considered. More consistent output will be expected next season, even if there is little doubt that Mkhitaryan possesses the requisite quality.
José Mourinho approval rating: Profanity-laden praise and encouragement, delivered far too loudly and aggressively, and a vice grip handshake.