Jose Mourinho has accused some Manchester United fans of failing to support young midfielder Scott McTominay during the 2-1 win over Liverpool at Old Trafford.
The 21-year-old was drafted into the United team to face Jurgen Klopp’s side after Paul Pogba was ruled out with injury.
McTominay’s decision to pass backwards instead of forwards during the second half was met with some groans from United fans, and Mourinho, who applauded the decision from the touchline, admitted afterwards he was less than impressed.
“I am upset with the reaction they had with Scott McTominay,” he told a news conference. “A kid with 21-years-old was making all the right decisions and they want him to make the wrong decisions.
“When he decides to break the intensity of the game it was a wonderful solution and the fans reacted against the kid. That was the bad one.”
Some fans also booed Mourinho’s decision to substitute matchwinner Marcus Rashford in the second half. However, the United manager revealed he was forced to make the change because he was worried referee Craig Pawson might be tempted to send off the 20-year-old because of Gary Neville’s half-time analysis.
Rashford scored twice in the first half to set up the 2-1 win and open up a five-point gap over their rivals.
He was also booked for a late challenge on Dejan Lovren, with Sky Sports pundit Neville questioning at the break whether Pawson should have shown a red card.
“The fans, they can do what they want,” Mourinho added. “I am not upset at all with that reaction. At half-time someone told me Gary Neville was asking Marcus Rashford to get a red card so I was scared the referee was watching.
“Where Liverpool brought a lot of players to the central area of the pitch, Marcus Rashford was defending the corridor against Alexander-Arnold and with the yellow card and the pressure of Gary, I made the decision to play a player who could make a yellow.”
Rashford was making his first Premier League start since Boxing Day and scored his first league goal since December.
It was also the first time he has scored twice in a Premier League game since his debut against Arsenal in 2016 and Mourinho insisted he had brought the forward back into the team at the right time.
He said: “The last few months it was not happening for him and he was feeling it a bit in terms of confidence.
“Today we trusted him and felt it could be adapted to his qualities. He is improving a lot in training. Sometimes media, fans, in relation to options, you are not in the training ground. You don’t see how well or bad players are training, the confidence, the mood.
“The mood with him was improving in the last weeks.”
Mourinho insists he did not target Dejan Loven, but striker Romelu Lukaku felt he could use past experience to get the better of the Liverpool defender.
Lukaku twice won long kicks from goalkeeper David de Gea in the first half and both times it led to goals from Rashford.
For long spells in the first half United profited from attacking the right-side of Liverpool’s defence where Lovren and young full-back Trent Alexander-Arnold had a difficult afternoon and, while Mourinho said that was not their primary tactic, they did use Lukaku’s physicality.
“We gave options to the players. I am not the kind of mechanic coach that says A pass to B, B to C, C to D. We have different options,” he said.
“We have also the possibility of the long ball to (Scott) McTominay and to play against (Andrew) Robertson in the air. Lukaku was confident from experience that could be dominant towards Lovren.”