Jose Mourinho won the Manchester derby to clinch a place in the quarter-finals of the EFL Cup and admitted that he picked a full-strength team to make up for Sunday’s humiliation at the hands of his old club Chelsea.
Mourinho refused to follow the example of Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola and call up his reserves, and was rewarded with a 1-0 win thanks to Juan Mata’s second-half strike.
The Manchester United manager dedicated the win to the club’s fans and said he hoped it would wipe away the stain of a crushing 4-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge.
He also bowed before supporters after the game in reference to the earlier humbling.
‘This was a good chance to clean that feeling because it’s always a derby and it’s a knockout,’ said Mourinho, who used his programme notes to apologise to ‘all of the Manchester United fans around the world’ on behalf of his team.
‘To win against Manchester City gives us a better feeling. I’m happy for the players and especially happy for the fans.’
Asked if the Chelsea match influenced his team selection on Wednesday night, Mourinho replied: ‘Yeah. Everything in the last week went against us because the fans felt such a deeply negative result.
‘We were not on a bad run of results. In the last seven we lost one. But it was a big defeat, numbers that the history of this club doesn’t deserve.
‘When I am at a club my heart belongs to the fans. I felt especially deeply for them. The reality is that I never had people like these ones. We lost 4-0 and they were supportive. Today the stadium was full of real support and it looks like the love for the club is bigger than bad results and three bad seasons.
‘We must give something back and today, independent of the result, we could lose and I would have the same feeling for my players. They gave absolutely everything. In a very difficult run of matches – Liverpool, Fenerbahce, Chelsea, City – they gave absolutely everything. I think they deserved (it).
Even if today we lost because the feeling was fantastic because the players showed they really care. They fought for the fans.’
Former Chelsea midfielder Mata was also desperate to atone for Sunday’s performance.
He said: ‘It was very important to win after the defeat in London. A derby is always very difficult to play but there was much improvement.
‘I think we left everything on the pitch. It was a bad game against Chelsea and we knew we had to be strong in our minds against City.’