Belfast Telegraph

Jose Mourinho says Juan Mata is fine after 'early' substitution

By Mark Ogden

Jose Mourinho insisted 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 introducing the Spain midfielder from the bench.

Mata, sold to United by Mourinho in January 2013 during the pair's time together at Chelsea, appeared angry with the stoppage-time decision at Wembley, when he was replaced by summer signing Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

But the Portuguese attempted to play down any suggestion that Mata was unhappy at being taken off by claiming that the player's lack of height prompted his late tactical switch.

"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 needed 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."

With Zlatan Ibrahimovic's 83rd-minute header winning the game for United, after Jamie Vardy had cancelled out Jesse Lingard's first-half opener, Mourinho marked his first competitive outing as United manager with a trophy.

But rather than claim it as his own, the Portuguese chose to credit his predecessor, Louis van Gaal, with the success.

"I want to dedicate victory to Louis van Gaal," Mourinho (right) said. "Without him, I would not be here celebrating because he won the FA Cup, which allows me to have one more trophy.

"I left many more trophies for managers to win after me and nobody remembers me, but this one I remember it was won by somebody who went before me.

"I also want to dedicate it to the seven players who did not play. It hurts me to leave behind the likes of (Memphis) Depay, (Phil) Jones, (Ashley) Young."

With United set to launch their Premier League campaign away to Bournemouth on Sunday, 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 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."

Ibrahimovic, meanwhile, insisted that he now wants the Shield success to be the first of many trophies he wins at United.

"It feels good," said the summer signing from Paris Saint Germain. "The first official game, we play for a trophy and we win.

"This is my 31st trophy, I'm super happy, but hopefully I can win much more than this.

"It was a difficult game. We played against a good team. They were very strong. But something big is going on with our team. We begin with a trophy."

Belfast Telegraph


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