Jose Mourinho has claimed Juan Mata was “fine” with his decision to substitute him in the dying moments of Manchester United’s Community Shield victory against Leicester City – just 29 minutes after bringing in the Spain midfielder from the bench.
There were concerns that Mourinho’s substitution of Mata was a sign he has no future at the club, but the Portuguese was quick to quell such rumours, as he gave reasons for his decision to take off the Spaniard.
“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.”
Mata was sold to Manchester United by Mourinho in January of 2014, when he was still manager at Chelsea, and there were fears he would sideline the former Valencia midfielder once again following his appointment, and the substitution at Wembley tended to give credence to that, but Mourinho has shut down the rumours.
Meanwhile, Manchester United will begin their Premier League campaign away to Bournemouth next Sunday, and Mourinho claims the trip to Dean Court will be the beginning of his ‘impossible’ dream as manager.
“My ambition is a stupid ambition,” Mourinho said. “It is impossible, but I want to win every game.
“That will start at Bournemouth next week and then the next game and the next if we win.
“But our desire to do well and work and improve (is our biggest strength). In this moment, we are not a super team, but we are a team with a super desire.”