Ask a Manchester United fan what they think about Henrikh Mkhitaryan right now and there's a very good chance they'll tell you how excited they are to see the Armenian get a run of games under his belt and transform Manchester United's attack. But if you asked the same fan the same question two weeks ago, he likely would have told you that he has no idea what is going on, or if he'll ever get a chance at the club.
It's a strange situation, but Mkhitaryan has burst into life having previously been deemed not ready for the pace of English football by the management team at Old Trafford.
After two man of the match displays in the space of week, he looks like he could be the missing piece of the puzzle in Manchester United's disappointing start to the season, but he himself suffered from a difficult start to life in a new country after signing in the summer, and it's not for the first time.
While his debut season at Borussia Dortmund went well, his second was very poor and he faced moments where he questioned whether or not he could cut it at such a high level, but he managed to bounce back.
Writing for ThePlayersTribune.com, Mkhitaryan explained how it was Thomas Tuchel who managed to get him back on track.
It was a very hard period for me. The first season was O.K., but the second season was a disaster, not only for me, but also for the club. We were losing so much, and I felt like I was having no luck. Not only was I not scoring, but I was not assisting, which is very unlike me. I had been signed for a lot of money, and I put a lot of pressure on myself.
I had many hard nights in my apartment in Dortmund, all alone, just thinking and thinking. I didn’t want to go outside, even to have dinner. But, as I said, fate can be interesting. A new manager, Thomas Tuchel, came to Dortmund before my third season, and he changed everything for me.
He came to me and said, “Listen, I want to get everything out of you.”
I was kind of smiling and laughing, because I thought he was just trying to make me feel better. I was doubting his words.
But he looked at me very seriously, and said, “Micki, you are going to be great.”
That meant everything to me. After the season I had, I didn’t think I could be a star. But he did it. He got everything out of me that season, and it was because I was happy again. When you are sad, you can’t be lucky.
He was so good last season that Manchester United made him a priority signing, but despite showing flashes of brilliance in pre-season, his well publicised struggle to adapt saw him frozen out of the first-team picture initially.
But having seen how he returned to form in Germany, it appears as though he is once again finding his feet after coming through the other side of some uncomfortable times.
At the beginning of this season at United, I suffered an injury and have not had many chances to play. It would be fair to say that the start of my life in Manchester was not perfect. But there have been many other times when I’ve had setbacks, and I have never given up. I will continue working every day so that I can help the team succeed.
If you asked my mom and my sisters about me, they would say that I am quite “hard.” I can be very serious. But if I’m being honest, I’m very happy with the way my life has turned out. It was always my dream to play for the biggest clubs in the world.
When you walk onto the pitch at Old Trafford, it is not just a pitch, it is a stage. If my father could see me on that stage, I think he would be very proud. I was always kind of chasing him, and I think even though he’s not here, he helped me to get to this place.
If he was still alive, maybe I would be a lawyer or a doctor right now. Instead, I am a footballer.
It’s funny, because after matches I never watch myself on TV. I hate watching myself, because I only notice my mistakes. I am very different from my father in my playing style. He was a fast striker with a powerful shot. I am much more technical. But many people back home in Armenia tell me that I look exactly like my father when I run.
They say, “Henrikh, you look the same, you run the same. You remind me so much of Hamlet when I watch you.”
I wouldn’t know because I can’t stand to watch myself, but it makes sense. I first dreamed of running free on the pitch by watching the videotapes of him after he was gone.
It's an honest take on a topic that few professional sportsmen are comfortable talking about. Self-doubt is something that effects us all at some point, and we've seen players buckle under the pressure of playing at a club the size of Manchester United.
His ability is not up for debate, but Mourinho took the decision to be patient and remove him from the scrutiny that inevitably would have followed from any part he played in poor results, and while that in itself must have been frustrating for the player, he looks to be reaping the benefits.
You can read Mkhitaryan's interesting and highly enjoyable article in full over on ThePlayersTribune.com