Erik ten Hag defends Hojlund and Mainoo subs in Man Utd draw | Football

The youngsters were taken off with United in need of a goal (Picture: Getty)

Erik ten Hag has defended his decision to substitute Rasmus Hojlund and Kobbie Mainoo in Manchester United’s frustrating 1-1 draw with Burnley on Saturday.

The pair were withdrawn when the game was still goalless in the 65th minute, with Amad Diallo and Scott McTominay coming on in their place, and the move was met with groans from the Old Trafford crowd.

It looked as though Ten Hag’s decision had paid off, though, when Antony fired United ahead in 79th minute, but Zeki Amdouni levelled from the penalty spot not long after.

There were more groans at full-time as United dropped two precious points but Ten Hag has hit back at criticism of his changes and says he was protecting Mainoo and Hojlund after a gruelling few weeks.

Asked about the groans of frustration from supporters that greeted his substitutions, and the full-time whistle, Ten Hag replied: ‘No offence but I have to manage the team.

‘Winning games comes first of all and you see what the game needs, and I think we needed by that time some freshness first of all.

‘But also tactical-wise, bring a player up who can keep the ball, who is creative and then in the midfield you could see it was a very high-intensity game, it went up and down.

Manchester United stars Scott McTominay and Amad Diallo with Erik ten Hag

Ten Hag gives McTominay and Amad some instructions (Picture: Getty)

‘And then you see also some fatigue in Rasmus, who is a very young player, and Kobbie Mainoo, who is a very young player.

‘And, yeah, they were subbed and it was the right decision. You see after it we took some benefit from it, by bringing the fresh legs with Scott in the position.

‘When it’s so open he’s very good in such situations and he can make his penetrations from there. And it also happened that we put ourselves from there in a winning position.

‘And then the last thing is that we have had three games [in seven days] where Burnley had days off. In a high-intensity game, it’s totally logical to bring players off who are very young and who are in their first years of the Premier League.

‘And then we don’t even talk about the injury risk. Rasmus Hojlund had more injuries already in the course of this season, Kobbie Mainoo also, he had two bad injuries.

‘So I don’t want them to get injured, so I protected them as well. So there are more reasons to make the subs.

‘But then I understand that fans want to see [those players]. They see also the skills those players bring and contribute to the team, I understand that. But I have to do my job and that is the right decision.’

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