Jose Mourinho claims he “needed six changes not three” in Manchester United’s season opener, with Anthony Martial seeing no game as other options had to take priority.
The French forward is among those to have been available to the Red Devils throughout the summer, with the 22-year-old overlooked by his country for their victorious World Cup campaign.
Martial did, however, appear to frustrate his boss when leaving the pre-season tour of America early to attend the birth of his second child.
That absence was not responsible for him being benched against Leicester City, with the winger not seeing any minutes in the 2-1 win as Mourinho had to tinker with his tactical plans elsewhere on the pitch.
With Paul Pogba, fresh from World Cup duty, and summer signing Fred among those included from the off, the United boss told Sky Sports on the tough decisions he faced: “A match where I needed six changes not three.
“Not enough for me. I wanted to play Martial for [Juan] Mata or Alexis [Sanchez] but I can’t.
“I know that Paul doesn’t resist for 90, the same with Fred. I need more changes but I couldn’t. So it was not easy to manage the game by the touchline point of view.
“In the second half I have Andreas Pereira and Fred both with a yellow card. Paul, he was fantastic his contribution was amazing, but the fuel was disappearing every minute so we were in trouble and I needed [Marouane] Fellaini and [Scott] McTominay to give me that balance in midfield.
“But at the same time I felt I wanted more in attack, I felt that Martial coming into the game last 20 minutes for Mata or Alexis it could bring us a second goal, but I couldn’t make that change so it was really hard.”
While introducing Fellaini and McTominay to shore things up in the middle of the park, Mourinho’s first change against the Foxes saw him replace Marcus Rashford with Romelu Lukaku.
With United having established a two-goal cushion in the final seven minutes, there was no room for Martial.
A desire to try and keep things tight proved to be the best approach for the Red Devils, with Jamie Vardy snatching a late effort for Leicester in what turned out to be a 2-1 victory for the hosts.