Jose Mourinho has revealed that Paul Pogba was not injured, explaining that his choice to substitute the Manchester United midfielder during their 1-0 loss to Newcastle was a tactical one.
The star was hooked in the 66th minute , as the Red Devils struggled to break the Magpies down at St James' Park.
Michael Carrick came on for Pogba, at the same time that Jesse Lingard replaced Juan Mata, and Mourinho has explained that he made the change in order to tweak his formation, though it had little effect.
"I wanted the simplicity of Michael Carrick and I wanted Alexis closer to Lukaku where he could be like a second striker."
United are now 16 points behind leaders Manchester City, who can win the league if they are victorious in their next six games.
Mourinho was full of praise for Newcastle, however, insisting that they turned in a performance of immense quality.
"They fought like animals - that's a compliment," he added. "They gave everything they had. The gods of football were with them but they fought like animals.
"I think it was a beautiful way to win a football match the way they did."
Indeed, the Portuguese has something of a hoodoo at St James’ Park, failing to win in all of his seven attempts at the ground – recording three draws and four losses - across his time at Manchester United and Chelsea.
The result moves Newcastle 13th, with 28 points, and they now sit two points clear of the relegation zone.