José Mourinho defended Antonio Valencia after he was sent off in Manchester United’s 2-1 win over Real Salt Lake, with the manager saying he disagreed with the decision of referee, Allen Chapman, to show the right-back a straight red on 68 minutes for going through the back of Sebastian Saucedo.
Chapman acted after offering Mourinho the chance to replace Valencia rather than he be dismissed. Yet afterwards Mourinho said: “I think the delay was because the referee asked me to change the player and I didn’t because I don’t agree with the card because Saucedo was really aggressive in second half. That’s what happens. Some other actions were a bit dangerous.
“It’s young people with enthusiasm playing against Manchester United but it’s a friendly match and it’s a different mentality. But it’s pre-season so no problem. It is good experience or us to play with one player less.”
A Saucedo challenge had earlier forced Juan Mata off just before the hour. The Spaniard was seen afterwards walking freely and he said, “I’m alright, it’s just a twist”. Mourinho confirmed it should not be a concern. “Mata has a big ankle but I hope nothing important. A few days, a week probably.”
United’s winner was scored by Romelu Lukaku’s first strike for the club, which came as half-time neared. “It’s just nice for him, not important for me,” said Mourinho of his new signing. “Before he scored the goal I told him I love everything you do on the pitch. Don’t be worried about scoring or not scoring. He gets behind people, works and presses well. Like everything he does. It’s easy to feel it because he was my player four years ago. His evolution has been great. He’s now a top striker. The goal is just a detail, not important.”
Before Lukaku’s goal, Henrikh Mkhitaryan had equalised Luis Silva’s opener for Real. The victory means United have won each of their two opening tour games, as they prepare to face Manchester City in Houston on Thursday.
Of the two games so far, Mourinho said: “I enjoyed playing LA Galaxy and enjoyed the first half of this game. This team played well the first 30 minutes, well-coached and good understanding of the game. Two fast wingers, good midfield. I really like the way they played. I’m sorry they have game on Wednesday and couldn’t play with best team for 90 minutes. Second half it’s young, less quality and more difficult for us to play.
“For the rest of the tour matches I will try to go for 60 minutes and 30 minutes and some players can play 60 minutes against Manchester City and play 30 against Real Madrid. I try to give minutes to everyone. It’s an important thing. The work we do in training, to go to matches, to try to do the things we do in training. Important for everybody to compete.
“The level of Manchester City, Real Madrid and Barcelona [United’s remaining tour opponents] is higher – Champions League level. It’s a new competition for us. It is good for us. Maybe the other teams have the same philosophy as us, maybe not. I know Manchester City is our city rival, Real Madrid European champion, but it’s not so important for us to play for a result.”
This article was written by Jamie Jackson at Rio Tinto Stadium, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 18th July 2017 06.55 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010
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