Jose Mourinho has explained why he substituted Juan Mata at the end of Manchester United’s Community Shield win over Leicester.
Goals from Jesse Lingard and Zlatan Ibrahimovic cancelled out a Jamie Vardy equaliser as United lifted their second trophy at Wembley in three months.
Mata started the game on the bench, and replaced Jesse Lingard just after the hour mark.
The Spaniard played fewer than 30 minutes however, as he himself was substituted in stoppage time as Henrikh Mkhitaryan made his competitive debut.
Some claimed that Mata, who has a storied history with former Chelsea manager Mourinho, reacted angrily to the substitution, but the United boss played down the reports of a rift.
“Mata is fine, he understands what I did,” Mourinho said. “I couldn’t take Zlatan [Ibrahimovic] or [Marouane] Fellaini off because Leicester’s ‘Rory Delap’ throw-ins would win it.
“The rules allow six changes, I had made five and I wanted to stop the game.
“I need to take off the smallest player because we were expecting a lot of long balls. He is the smallest one.
“But I think he played very well. He gave me exactly what I needed. We want to win and everyone is happy in the end.”
Coaching staff are hugging Mata. Mata is actually having a go at Mourinho. Having to be restrained. #mufc
— Samuel Luckhurst (@samuelluckhurst) August 7, 2016