Jose Mourinho insists substitute Juan Mata understood his decision to replace the Spaniard in stoppage time of Manchester United’s Community Shield victory over Leicester City.
United boss Mourinho brought Mata on in place of Jesse Lingard, who scored the opening goal in the Red Devil’s 2-1 win, after 63 minutes, only to then replace the midfielder with Henrikh Mkhitarayan in the 93rd minute.
Mata, who fell out with Mourinho when the duo were both at Chelsea, was visibly unhappy as he walked off the pitch.
Coaching staff are hugging Mata. Mata is actually having a go at Mourinho. Having to be restrained. #mufc
— Samuel Luckhurst (@samuelluckhurst) August 7, 2016
However, the Portuguese has played down reports of a further rift with Mata, and says the decision was made to combat Leicester’s aerial threat.
“He’s fine now,” the manager said.
“The last five minutes were a nightmare. Kasper Schmeichel, for sure, we have seen videos of his dad going up [for corners] like that. I thought their right-back was Rory Delap throwing the balls 50 metres.
“The last minutes were really difficult. I know I did something that is not nice to do. He [Mata] understands what we did. I couldn’t take off Fellaini or Ibrahimovic. They were very important to be on the pitch for the ‘Rory Delap’ throw-ins. We wanted to win the game, and we did it.”
Mata continues to be linked with a move from Old Trafford, with Everton interested in the Spain international.