Chelsea midfielder Nemanja Matic has declined to comment of Jose Mourinho after hauling him off against Southampton shortly after bringing him on, the Daily Express reports.
The Serbian international was hailed as one of the Premier League’s best midfielders last season, but has struggled to recapture that form as The Blue’s sit in 16th place in the table.
And last weekend, with the score poised at 1-1, Matic was introduced at the break but was taken off less than half an hour later once Southampton had gone 3-1 up.
Mourinho insisted that he was not humiliating the player, claiming that he was protecting Matic because he is not performing at 100 per cent yet.
“It was not humiliating,” he said.
“It was not the case. I do not do that to anyone, in football and in life.
“With the players, it is not easy. I like them, I trust them. I know they are good players but some of them are in a difficult moment – Matic is one of them.
“He is not playing well. He is not sharp defensively. He is making mistakes with the ball and not making the best decisions.
“So I decided to take off Matic but I like the player very much, I have a fantastic relationship with the boy. Humiliating him? For sure, I was not.”
However, when asked about the incident by journalists ahead of Serbia’s remaining Euro 2016 qualifiers, Matic decided to keep quiet and deflect the attention elsewhere.
“This is what happened with Mourinho and I can’t comment on that. What happened, it happened, we move on,” he said.