Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho insists he did not humiliate Nemanja Matic during his side's 3-1 defeat to Southampton at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
The Serbia international was introduced at half-time as a replacement for Ramires with the scores tied at 1-1 after Steven Davis had cancelled out Willian's opener for the Blues.
However, Mourinho's change did not pay off as Sadio Mane and Graziano Pelle struck twice in the space of 12 second-half minutes to put the Saints in front.
Matic was hauled off again after Pelle's goal, just 27 minutes after he had been brought on, and the decision did not sit well with the home fans, who jeered after the midfielder was replaced by Loic Remy.
But Mourinho claims he was left with no choice after Matic had produced another sub-standard performance and denied his actions were degrading towards the player.
The Portuguese coach told reporters: "It was not humiliating – I don't do that to anyone in football or life. If I do, I do without any intention.
"I like them [my players], I trust them and I know they are good players but some of them are in a difficult moment and Matic is one of them. He's not playing well, is not sharp defensively and is making mistakes with the ball.
"I was afraid of Ramires being sent off. I kept Oscar because he creates more. I kept [Cesc] Fabregas because he is the one – maybe because of his formation in a difficult place to play which is Barcelona – who copes better with the pressure. His emotional stability is high.
"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."