Jose Mourinho has admitted his surprise that Marouane Fellaini was used by Belgium manager Roberto Martinez in a World Cup qualifier which ended with the Manchester United midfielder suffering an injury.
Prior to the last international break, Mourinho had said he expected Fellaini to be rested by Martinez.
Belgium had already guaranteed qualification for next year’s World Cup in Russia and Fellaini had missed United’s Champions League victory against CSKA Moscow with a slight muscular injury.
But Martinez selected Fellaini for the game in Bosnia-Herzegovina and the United star suffered strained knee ligaments inside half-an-hour, limping off with a problem that could sideline him for several weeks.
Manchester United’s Belgian midfielder Marouane Fellaini celebrates scoring the team’s second goal during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Crystal Palace at Old Trafford in Manchester, north-west England, on September 30, 2017.
However, Mourinho, whose side face rivals Liverpool at Anfield on Saturday, was keen to downplay any suggestion of a row with former Everton boss Martinez.
“Did I say that? I don’t think so, because I cannot control what they do in the national team,” said Mourinho, when told he had claimed Fellaini would not play in the last two Belgium games.
“I was surprised, yes I was. No, not angry. I know that I cannot control what happens in the national teams, so I cannot be angry.”
Having beaten Bosnia-Herzegovina 4-3, Belgium concluded their campaign with a home game against Cyprus, winning 4-0.
To compound United concerns in that game, Martinez put on another of their players, striker Romelu Lukaku, who had missed the trip to Bosnia with an ankle injury, as a substitute for the final 24 minutes.
Belgium held a 3-0 lead at that point and, while Lukaku would go on to add a fourth, his introduction would not have been appreciated by Mourinho.
However, the United manager was obviously keen to retain good relations with Martinez and would only confirm that Lukaku returned to Old Trafford with no residual problems over his ankle.