Mourinho to axe derby days flops - but he insists it is not punishment

SoccerBy Kevin Palmer
Henrikh Mkhitaryan fluffed his lines against City
Henrikh Mkhitaryan fluffed his lines against City

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has confirmed that Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Jesse Lingard will be dropped after their below par displays in Saturday's Manchester derby defeat - but the news is very different for youngster Marcus Rashford.

Mourinho replaced both Mkhitaryan and Lingard at half-time after United fell 2-1 behind against local rivals Manchester City, with a much improved second half display doing little to disguise their failure to make their mark.

Now Mourinho has confirmed that he will drop the duo for Thursday night's Europa League game against Feyenoord, as he is set to ring the changes for his first European assignment of the season.

“The performances are the deciding factor,” Mourinho told reporters. “How can I decide? Performances are the only way that I can decide.

"So if you’re asking me if they’re going to play against Feyenoord (in United's Europa League group game in Holland), then no.

“And it’s not to punish them, it’s just to decide in relation to what I have. And what do I have? Their performances. So of course I’m going to play other players.

“Let’s speak, for example, about Mkhitaryan. How many big matches has he played? The kid Jesse. How many times has he played big matches? Not too many.

“So you never know the way players are going to react, especially when you don’t know them so well. And, after only a couple of months, it’s too early to know them really well.”

Mourinho also confirmed that he will start with Rashford against Feyenoord, as he poured praise on the teenager who made his mark in the second half of the Manchester derby.

“For me, the next big game is against Feyenoord - and the next game he’s going to play. That’s the only thing I can say," added Mourinho. 

“I trust him completely. I know his future will be absolutely brilliant.

"He’s mainly a No.9. If you want to play him in different positions, we need to work on him, we need to improve him, but his big personality is there.

“Normally, people look to the football talent, but the personality at this level is very, very important and he was showing that last season — he was showing that immediately.”