For the first few months of his Manchester United career the jury has been out. Indeed the typically knee-jerk sports press has even suggested that Henrikh Mkhitaryan could be on his way out of Manchester United before his career at Old Trafford has really got started.
There was a real concern that he didn’t have the temperament for the pace and intensity of the Premier League after that disastrous 45 minute introduction against Manchester City at Old Trafford earlier in the season.
But, slowly, Jose Mourinho has brought him back into the fold – first in the cup competitions and then in the league.
And his incredible goal in the Europa League on Thursday night suggested that he is finally ready to shape matches on a regular basis. Because, at his best, there is no doubt that Manchester United have acquired another genuine game changer.
Watching a replay of the Armenian’s goal on Thursday was poetry in motion. The way he dribbled with the ball reminded us of Leo Messi. His balance, poise and control was breathtaking and he was simply too quick for the opponents even though he started his run at the halfway line.
Manchester United needed a creative injection after some seriously uninspiring and workmanlike performances in the first few months of the season. And Mkhitaryan and Anthony Martial are starting to feel like new signings after a really slow start to the campaign.
There have been far too many false dawns at Manchester United over the last few years for us to suggest that they are finally ready to transcend their recent malaise. But, equally, the media has been too quick to consign Jose Mourinho to the scrapheap when he’s only a few months into his United career.
Now, with these two wide man coming into their own and showing real class, the whole team looks as if it is close to clicking and causing opponents serious and lasting damage. The second half of the season looks as if it is going to be far more successful for Manchester United than the first. Especially is Mkhitaryan continues his rise to prominence.