Jose Mourinho has explained his decision to substitute Juan Mata in Sunday night’s Community Shield match against Leicester City.
Video of Mata having to be restrained, you can see the anger inside him pic.twitter.com/SbrLTzK0EN
— Mourinho FC (@TarekTamo) August 7, 2016
Mata was sent on in the second half as a replacement for Jesse Lingard, with 27 minutes of the game left to play. However, the 28-year-old Spaniard suffered ignominy of being the substitute who was substituted, as he was hauled off for the last few minutes of the game for new signing Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
He was visibly annoyed as he walked off the pitch, but was seen smiling later after Mourinho walked up to him and explained the decision in comical fashion.
Fans blew up on social media when the substitution was made.
When asked about it after the game, however, Mourinho explained the reason behind the decision to bring Mata off.
Speaking to BT Sport after the game, Jose said:
“He played very well, he gave me exactly what I needed.
“The rules allowed six changes, and I wanted to stop the game, to kill time. I have one more player [to bring on] and I have to pick the smallest one [to come off].
“I know it would end with long balls, throw-ins, so I don’t pick [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic or [Marouane] Fellaini for sure. Mata is the smallest one. He was very angry but they threw everything. We want to win and everybody is happy in the end.”
Mourinho and Mata have history together, having previously fallen out at their former club, Chelsea. Mata was Chelsea’s player of the season on two occasions, but Mourinho favoured Oscar ahead of the Spaniard, and the then 25-year-old was sold to Manchester United.
United fans have feared for Mata’s future at the club ever since Mourinho was appointed as the new manager due to the pair’s frosty relationship at Chelsea, but Mourinho confirmed that Mata is a part of his plans at Old Trafford, and has a future at the club.