Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho has explained his reasons for substituting Zlatan Ibrahimovic at the interval of Tuesday’s Premier League clash with Burnley.
Ibrahimovic started his first Premier League game of the 2017-18 campaign on Boxing Day when United welcomed Burnley to Old Trafford.
The 36-year-old struggled to make his mark, however, and was hauled off at the interval.
Ibrahimovic has been criticised for his performance on Tuesday, with many claiming that the experienced forward will struggle to fully recover from the serious knee injury that he suffered last season.
Mourinho, however, has insisted that the change had nothing to do with Ibrahimovic’s own performance, rather the need to change formation against Burnley.
Mourinho told reporters:
“It was tactical, play only with one central defender. We know that they don’t normally have the ball, they just play direct.
“So really in the line-up, play one against one, [Phil] Jones was a risk Jones accepted, [Nemanja] Matic was there just to bring the ball from totally free positions, so he was bringing lots of balls into midfield.
“And then instead of more positional players like Zlatan and [Romelu] Lukaku, we decided to go with Mkhitaryan, Lingard and [Juan] Mata all three trying to play in these areas behind Lukaku and we can say we had some success.”
United were 2-0 behind to Burnley at Old Trafford before Jesse Lingard scored twice in the second period to secure a point for the Red Devils.
The 20-time English champions will end 2017 with a home game against Southampton this weekend.