Erik ten Hag defended his decision to make his full quota of substitutes against Sevilla which left Manchester United playing with 10 men for the final few minutes.
Ten Hag said he made the right call and quoted a quirky Dutch phrase - “looking at a cow in the a**” - to explain how it easy to criticise his decision in hindsight. United blew a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2 with Sevilla, conceding two late own goals, and ended the game with 10 men after Lisandro Martinez was forced off and Ten Hag had used all five substitutes.
After the game, Ten Hag revealed the referee had told him that Bruno Fernandes and Antony, both of whom were already on a booking, were one more transgression from being sent off.
And Ten Hag called on a quirky Dutch phrase to explain why he substituted Fernandes and Antony – with the decision backfiring spectacularly. Ten Hag said: “Bruno was throwing a ball away, the next time he is off.
“The referee saved him, because a Sevilla player did it in the first-half and he got booked for it. Antony saw it out [avoided a second booking] but don't get involved in such circumstances. “Everything is going our way, we're 2-0 up, so don't go into individual battles with your opponents, it's not necessary.
“You're heating up the opponent and risking getting sent off. I didn't take the risk, so afterwards I call it 'you're looking a cow in the a**' - we call it in my region in the Netherlands. That's easy but when he got sent off you tell me, 'why don't you get him off? Why take the risk?”
Ten Hag said it was too early to provide an update on Martinez's injury and said: “Sorry, no, it's not even 24 hours, so I don't have a complete diagnosis so I can't tell in this moment.
“I can't say at this moment, when we have news we will give it straight to you. Let's do the medical, a full assessment, complete diagnosis, it doesn't change at this moment. I have an idea but I don't cause speculation."
With Martinez and Raphael Varane both injured, Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof are set to start at Nottingham Forest on Sunday. Ten Hag said players have to be able to come into the side at short notice even if they have not played much, and insisted he will not accept excuses.
“Every game is a battle, every game is a fight, and you have to be ready for that fight,” said the United boss. “We have a squad - we have more than 11 starters - so now others are on and when their time is there, you have to show and contribute to the team, you have to be ready. That is what we expect and what we demand.
“If not, then you find excuses, and if you want to find excuses, you have to look for another club. When the moment is there you have to contribute and that is what we demand.”