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New boys impress Mkhitaryan



Red hot: Romelu Lukaku scores as another Man United new boy, Nemanja Matic, looks on during the opening victory

Red hot: Romelu Lukaku scores as another Man United new boy, Nemanja Matic, looks on during the opening victory

AFP/Getty Images

Red hot: Romelu Lukaku scores as another Man United new boy, Nemanja Matic, looks on during the opening victory

Henrikh Mkhitaryan believes Manchester United's new signings have made the squad much stronger. Two of United's three major summer signings, Romelu Lukaku and Nemanja Matic, caught the eye in an impressive season-opening 4-0 Premier League thrashing of West Ham on Sunday.

Lukaku, bought for £75m, scored the opening two goals while midfielder Matic, bought for £40m from champions Chelsea, was man of the match.

The third new player, £31m defender Victor Lindelof, was not included in the squad as manager Jose Mourinho wants to give the Swede more time to settle.

Mkhitaryan, asked initially about Matic's display, replied: "It was not only Matic. I want to mention as well the other two new signings, Lindelof and Lukaku. They are very good players. They are, I think, Manchester United players.

"Matic does a big job on the pitch. He tries to recover all the balls. He defensively does a big job.

"Lukaku scored his goals and Lindelof is still going to have time to show himself. All the players are good signings and they are going to help us a lot."

Matic brought a commanding presence to United's midfield and, at 29, looks in prime condition. Mkhitaryan admits he is surprised Chelsea sold him.

"I am (surprised)," he said. "But at the same time I am very happy that we have got him."

United won the League Cup and Europa League last season, but are hoping to challenge for the Premier League again after three underwhelming campaigns.

Yet for United it is never just about results. Fans also want to see the team play with style, and one of their chief criticisms in recent years has been the side has been too pedestrian.

Mkhitaryan said: "As a player and for a club, you are always going to have ups and downs. I think the last few years were a little bit down for the club but since last year, and this year, I hope it is going be up.

"We are going to try to do our best to bring the club to the level it was at before. It is always hard but we will try and do our best."

And Mourinho is convinced United will be stronger this season but is not getting carried away with their impressive Premier League opener.

He said: "Many times last season we deserved to win and we didn't, so the fact we won was the most important thing.

"I think the quality of our performance, based on the confidence levels, was really high, but I am not going to say the performance was perfect because it wasn't. We made our mistakes and have room for improvement.

"But it was a solid performance. We had good stability, good confidence levels and desire until the end. So good.

"Now our challenge is to keep these confidence levels. I think we can be a better team than we were last season."

Lindelof did not even make the bench after a difficult debut in last week's Super Cup against Real Madrid, but Mourinho says the Swede's time will come.

He said: "I think Real was too early for him. He played because (Phil) Jones and (Eric) Bailly were both suspended. The difference between Lukaku and Matic is that they have years and years of experience of Premier League.

"In 2004 I bought a phenomenal central defender to England, Ricardo Carvalho. He was one of the best central defenders in the last decade in the Premier League. But he struggled and it was difficult for him to come and adapt in the beginning.

"Victor needs a little time and he is going to have that."

Belfast Telegraph