Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitted he would not have changed his Manchester United team selection in hindsight after the 3-1 FA Cup defeat to Leicester.
United were second best against the Foxes, and now just have the Europa League as their only realistic hope of ending a four-year trophy drought.
Mason Greenwood scored an impressive equaliser but United capitulated and individual errors cost them a Wembley semi-final against Southampton.
Paul Pogba and Donny van de Beek both played a key role in Greenwood’s goal but were both removed at the same time in the 64th minute as part of a questionable quartet of substitutions with United chasing the game.
Van de Beek was quiet for large periods and Pogba couldn’t make a profound impact from the left, but they remained two of United’s creative players and the lacklustre Fred stayed on the pitch.
Solskjaer explained post-match that the plan for midfield pair was they would only play up until around the hour mark.
“I would have started the same team again,” he said, as quoted by the Manchester Evening News.
“We felt they had more than 45 minutes in them, they’re important players for us, that’s why we started with them.
“Every team selection has reasons behind it and Bruno has played a lot of football. Thursday night he broke all his records physically, statistically. And the boy is not inhuman, he is also a human being.
“He’s played a game every three or four days and it was a chance to start both Donny and Paul, but the accumulation of games maybe caught up with us. Bruno wants to play and sometimes you make decisions for the benefit of the team.
“We picked a team we felt was going to win the game, giving us a foundation to win the game. We knew players like Donny and Paul wouldn’t last more than an hourish, we knew we had subs who could come on and make a difference, and we hoped they could give us that extra energy and brightness.”
Bruno Fernandes’ arrival turned out to be belated as he couldn’t spark United into life after the break.
The Reds will be frustrated in going out in such meagre fashion against Brendan Rodgers’ side, who outclassed them in all areas.