Jose Mourinho revealed he apologised to Henrikh MkhitaryanÂ after taking the midfielder off at half-time in Manchester Unitedâ€™s FA Cup clash with Derby County.
Goals from Jesse Lingard and Romelu Lukaku ensured the Red Devilsâ€™ smooth passage to the fourth round in the game at Old Trafford.
However, MkhitaryanÂ lasted only 45 minutesÂ before being hooked for Lukaku.
The Armenian looked bereft of confidence, losing the ball on countless occasions butÂ Mourinho has apologised for withdrawing the midfielder so early.
“(It was) unfair. Unfair,” he said.
“And I told that at half-time. I didn’t like what I did. Unfair. He didn’t deserve it.
“He was playing well, he was not playing bad. He had a couple of missed possessions but he was playing well, he was giving (a) good dynamic to the team.
“My feeling was just that (Marcus) Rashford is not going to score a goal. And because of that I’m not going to lose time and I’m going to play Romelu.
“And then I had to sacrifice a player and it was MickeyÂ the one that I sacrificed.
“But it’s something that I normally don’t do. I did at half-time. I apologised to him in front of the people because he didn’t deserve (it).”
The 28-year-old has not scored since September and has completed 90 minutes just twice this season.
Mkhitaryan still looks set to leave Old Trafford this month, although a reported move to Inter Milan now seems unlikely to materialise.