Aitor Karanka missed out on a big job in favour of remaining loyal to Middlesbrough prior to his departure last week, according to Jose Mourinho.
Karanka, who worked as Mourinho's assistant at Real Madrid, left the Riverside Stadium by mutual consent on Thursday after four years at the club, with Steve Agnew overseeing Boro's 3-1 home loss to Manchester United.
Speaking after inflicting the struggling team's fourth successive defeat, the Portuguese claimed Karanka had previously passed up an enticing opportunity to advance his career.
"Justice for Karanka is the work he did here," Mourinho told a post-match news conference. "People cannot delete the good things we do in clubs, it doesn't matter what happens.
"I was sacked by Chelsea, people now don't like me, but nobody can go there and delete what I did. Aitor came here, 8,000 people in the stadium, almost going to League One. He keeps them in the division, goes to the playoff final, could leave, decides to stay, gets promotion.
"He could leave the club for better - I know what I'm saying - but he stays for the fans, for the owner [Steve Gibson]. He lost a good opportunity to go to a bigger club. In the end, he loses his job. It's football. I'm sure he wants this team to stay in the division. I don't think he's happy that we won."
Victory extended United's unbeaten run in the league to 18 matches and kept Mourinho's men in the hunt for Champions League qualification, which the Portuguese insists the club wants to secure via their league placing, although winning the Europa League - which would also earn passage into UEFA's top-tier continental competition - is now his priority.
"Yeah, big win, because it keeps us alive in the fourth-position race," Mourinho said. "If we don't win today then we lose a chance in relation to Arsenal's defeat, to Manchester City v Liverpool.
"I'd prefer to win the Europa League because it gives us the same, Champions League football, but it gives us a trophy, prestige, a European Super Cup. But maybe we don't win the Europa League. So we have to fight to try to finish fourth. It's a massive victory for us."
A win is a win— Michael Carrick (@carras16) March 19, 2017
Boro has always been a tough place for us to get a result.
Our support again
Thank you pic.twitter.com/wsKkGVd9EX
Boro caretaker Agnew meanwhile claimed not have seen Rudy Gestede's clash with United defender Eric Bailly in the second half amid suggestions the striker may have motioned to bite his opponent.
"I didn't see anything," he told reporters. "Obviously I'm picking up that something went on but it's no concern to me."
And the temporary boss also shrugged off Mourinho's swift departure from the sidelines in the closing stages.
"[Mourinho] has done that in the past - it's hard to work out his next move. We shook hands in the tunnel."
|MLS Review: Sounders a step closer to final, Crew and Toronto in stalemate|
|Ben Yedder trolls Liverpool after dramatic Sevilla comeback|
|´World class´ Insigne can´t be rested – Sarri|
|I say one thing and you write something else - Angry Ronaldo brushes off media|
|Griezmann needs support of Atletico and fans – Simeone|
|Monaco paid for mistakes in Champions League exit - Jardim|
|We had to rely on personal pride - Berizzo praises Sevilla´s stunning comeback|
|Championship Review: Coleman loses first Sunderland game, Fulham win nine-goal thriller|
|City fans get first sight of local star they crave in Phil Foden|
|Gunes wants more after historic Besiktas Champions League qualification|
|Allegri plays down Dybala-Messi comparisons|
|Extra rest helped Rose shine in Dortmund – Pochettino|
|Zidane: We knew Ronaldo, Benzema goals would come|
|It feels like we lost - Klopp frustrated at Liverpool´s second-half collapse|
|It depends on Foden - Guardiola puts ball in teenager´s court|
|Postecoglou leaves Australia post|
|Ronaldo overtakes Messi in Champions League goalscoring race|
|Manchester City 1 Feyenoord 0: Sterling strikes late as top spot is clinched|
|Sevilla 3 Liverpool 3: Klopp´s side fail to survive Spanish inquisition|
|Borussia Dortmund 1 Tottenham 2: Son grabs winner as Spurs seal top spot|
|Napoli 3 Shakhtar Donetsk 0: Insigne stunner helps keep knockout hopes alive|
|APOEL 0 Real Madrid 6: Record-breaking Ronaldo and Benzema send holders through in style|
|Monaco 1 RB Leipzig 4: Werner brace dumps Ligue 1 champions out|
|Ronaldo breaks record for Champions League goals in a calendar year|
|I wanted to cry with Buffon - Rakitic sympathy for Italy great|
|Defiant Smalling responds to ´surprise´ England omission|
|Neuer ´on schedule´ but Heynckes won´t rush Bayern star|
|Messi contract saga not swaying Barcelona boss Valverde|
|Spartak Moscow 1 Maribor 1: Stoppage-time equaliser gives Russians everything to do at Anfield|
|Besiktas 1 Porto 1: Talisca leveller sends hosts through|
|Mkhitaryan questions leave Mourinho riled|
|Jones out of Basel, Brighton games but Mourinho hopeful on Bailly|
|Conte unhappy with Chelsea´s fixture congestion|
|Pepe tells Ronaldo: Come to Besiktas!|
|Clement expects Abraham to shake off back injury for Bournemouth clash|
|Oddo replaces sacked Del Neri at Udinese|
|Bartomeu hints at January Barcelona signings|
|Emery defends ´responsible´ Neymar from lifestyle criticism|
|Del Neri sacked by Udinese|
|Everton striker Niasse facing two-match ban after FA diving charge|
|Lampard excited by English clubs in Champions League|
|Thiago and Coman back for Bayern´s trip to Anderlecht|
|Dybala hails Messi as ´our Maradona´, wants to play with Neymar|
|Sherwood talks up Spurs as potential Champions League winners|
|Borussia Dortmund on the brink as Real Madrid eye progress - Champions League in Opta numbers|
|Hughton hopeful on video assistance after Brighton denied penalty|
|Klopp staying calm over Salah form|
|Griezmann: I don´t regret staying at Atletico|
|Guardiola dismisses Champions League favourites tag|
|Brighton and Hove Albion 2 Stoke City 2: Gross, Izquierdo extend home unbeaten run|
|Rose in contention to face Dortmund as Pochettino denies ´issue´ with defender|
|Benzema knows he can give more – Zidane|
|I´ve fulfilled my dreams already – Klopp has no plans to coach Barcelona|
|Aubameyang will face Tottenham, Bosz confirms|
|Klopp expects Matip to face Chelsea, Lallana return getting ´nearer´|
|Berizzo looking to former Red Aspas to provide lessons for Sevilla|
|Mangala ready to pounce, but realistic on Man City playing time|
|Mendy injury means Aguero or Jesus for Guardiola|
|Guardiola sends ´big hug´ to ´amazing, so gentle´ Pulis|
|Tavecchio quits as head of FIGC, claims board have refused to resign|
|Benedetto facing Argentina World Cup KO with cruciate injury|
|Shape up! Heynckes reveals demand to Bayern star Vidal|
|Ramos sits out Madrid trip to APOEL|
|West Brom sack Pulis after wretched run|
|Lloris wants Spurs to forget title and focus on top four|
|Pogba no Gerrard yet, says Benitez|
|Guardiola will ´kill´ City stars if they get complacent|
|Ibrahimovic: My injury was worse than people know|
|Icardi like a ´raptor pouncing on its prey´, says Spalletti|