Jose Mourinho explains why Antonio Valencia was sent off against Real Salt Lake City

by Leo Nieboer

Jose Mourinho has explained why Antonio Valencia was sent off during Manchester United’s 2-1 win over Real Salt Lake City, noting that the Ecuadorian was dismissed after he refused to take him off following a bad challenge in the second half.

Valencia, who produced another bustling cameo from right back, went in hard on the back of Sebastian Saucedo and left the 20-year-old in a heap on the floor.

The referee initially went over to Mourinho and then, following a pause, went over to the bemused 31-year-old and showed him a red card.

And Mourinho, speaking after the game, noted that he was offered the chance to substitute Valencia but refused on the basis that he didn’t believe the Ecuadorian deserved to be dismissed.

“I think the delay was because the referee asked me to change the player and I didn’t,” he said. “Because I don’t agree with the card. Because Saucedo, I think is the name of the boy, he was really aggressive during all of the second-half, with what happened to Mata and some other actions where it was a bit dangerous, which I understand.

“Young people, enthusiasm playing against Manchester United, but you come with the mentality of a friendly match and in the end you find yourself in a different mentality.

“But it’s pre-season, no problem and also a good experience for us to play with one player less.”

This was bizarre to say the least. I’m struggling to understand the referee’s angle here. Perhaps he offered Mourinho the chance to swap Valencia out in recognition of it being pre-season.

The Portuguese, in my view, deserves credit for sticking to his principles. A red card for what was nothing more than a full-blooded challenge – on a player who had hardly held back with his own tackles – is laughable and, of course, only permissible within the realms of ‘soccer’ in the U.S.

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