Erik ten Hag has revealed he substituted young star Kobbie Mainoo at half-time due to concerns over his workload before Manchester United were beaten 2-1 by Nottingham Forest on Saturday night.
18-year-old Mainoo impressed during pre-season before picking up an injury but has since earned six starts in the Premier League.
The central midfielder was hauled off for Scott McTominay as the Red Devils lost control in the second half. While Marcus Rashford equalised after Nicolas Dominguez’s opener, Morgan Gibbs-White’s 82nd-minute winner consigned Man Utd to their ninth Premier League defeat of the season.
Mainoo in particular struggled with the attention paid to him by Gibbs-White, who pressed and harried the youngster so vociferously that his participation came to an end at the break.
Asked if Mainoo’s withdrawal was an enforced change, Ten Hag replied: “No, but he played a third game in a row in this week and that’s tough, where he’s coming from.
“I thought the energy was a little bit lower than the other two games this week, therefore we brought some new energy in. I don’t regret.
“I thought Scott brought energy, I thought second half was much better our side. The first goal, when you analyse it good, we were downsized. Nothing to do with the central midfield there.
“Second goal was a counter-attack where there was a miscommunication, we had players enough and the second part of it, in the first half there were some moments where Forest ran away. It’s a good play but we should have tracked that.”
United have now lost three of their last four league away games, with that form leaving them seventh in the Premier League. They’ll hope for an easier time on their travels when they visit Wigan in the FA Cup third round on 8 January before hosting Tottenham little under a week later.
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