United pursuing trophies in earnest, says Mkhitaryan

Henrikh Mkhitaryan receiving instructions from manager Jose Mourinho during the FA Cup match against Wigan Athletic on Sunday. Despite Mourinho's jaundiced view of the season schedule for his side, Mkhitaryan insists the Red Devils are taking all four com
Henrikh Mkhitaryan receiving instructions from manager Jose Mourinho during the FA Cup match against Wigan Athletic on Sunday. Despite Mourinho's jaundiced view of the season schedule for his side, Mkhitaryan insists the Red Devils are taking all four competitions seriously. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Henrikh Mkhitaryan insists Manchester United are taking all four competitions they are involved in seriously, even as they try to cope with a demanding fixture schedule.

Jose Mourinho's club are the only one in England still retaining an interest in a quartet of competitions - the Premier League, Europa League, FA Cup and the League Cup, in which they can look forward to a Wembley final against Southampton next month.

Their success means United could face as many as 67 games, should they advance to the finals of the other two Cup competitions.

Ahead of the Red Devils' Premier League clash against Hull City today, Mkhitaryan insisted United want to succeed in every tournament.

"We are taking all the competitions seriously," he said. "For Manchester United, every Cup is very important. A trophy is a trophy. It doesn't matter if it is the League Cup, the FA Cup or the Europa League. We want to do our best to try to win them all."

The weekend FA Cup win over Wigan saw Mourinho make nine changes from his previous game, a League Cup semi-final, also against Hull, and hand debuts to young substitutes Axel Tuanzebe and goalkeeper Joel Pereira.

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    Manchester United are the only team in England challenging on four fronts for club honours.

Mourinho hinted at sweeping changes again at his pre-match press conference yesterday and revealed that defender Eric Bailly is fit and available for selection.

"We need to win the match," said the United manager. "We always play a full-strength team, it depends on the way you look at it but we always try to have a strong team.

"Of course, we have had some players that didn't play the last match, some players with a lot of matches played already, like (Antonio) Valencia, (Zlatan) Ibrahimovic, (Paul) Pogba. Some of these players with lot of matches they didn't play but will play tomorrow."

Marco Silva's side travel to Old Trafford occupying a place in the relegation zone after one victory in their last 11 league games.

Italy defender Andrea Ranocchia, on loan from Inter Milan until the end of the season, could make his Hull debut against United if he gets his international clearance in time.

He is Hull's sixth recruit of the transfer window, joining fellow loan signings Oumar Niasse, Evandro, Omar Elabdellaoui and Lazar Markovic. Markus Henriksen has also arrived for an undisclosed fee from Dutch side AZ Alkmaar.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 01, 2017, with the headline 'United pursuing trophies in earnest, says Mkhitaryan'. Print Edition | Subscribe