Maurizio Sarri says he did not take the decision to rest Dries Mertens lightly after Napoli were beaten 2-1 at Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League.
The Serie A outfit started with Mertens on the bench, eventually introducing him when trailing 2-0, and the Belgium international won the penalty which Arkadiusz Milik converted.
But Napoli and Mertens could not force an equaliser and coach Sarri explained his decision, insisting it could have paid dividends had Facundo Ferreyra not nodded in a second for Shakhtar.
"[On Tuesday] I was accused of not making enough changes; now I am accused of too many," he told Mediaset Premium.
"Dries is extraordinary and we don't leave him out lightly, but pace is his greatest strength and he can't have 50 to 55 games per year.
"He was coming off international duty, too, so we decided to rest him and let him come on later.
4 - Napoli have lost four of their last seven CL games (excl. qualifiers), winning just once in the process. Hard. #ShakhtarNapoli— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) September 13, 2017
"If we had managed to keep it at 1-0, he could have got us the equaliser. He has certain characteristics and qualities so it's not easy to leave him out, but sometimes we have to."
And Sarri believes the result can serve as a reminder that Napoli face a tough ask in progressing from Group F, which also includes Manchester City and Feyenoord.
"We must not forget that we lost 2-1 at the home of the seeded team in this group," he added.
"If anyone thought the Champions League would be a walk in the park for Napoli, they have their feet back on the ground now."
Despite a disappointing Napoli display, Shakhtar coach Paulo Fonseca felt his side deserved credit for their own performance.
"To Napoli, I say that it is not fair to say that they took the wrong approach to the game," he told a post-match news conference.
"From my point of view, we were good at cancelling out their strengths. We won against a very, very competitive opponent - and it was on merit."
|Pochettino fumes over refereeing decisions after derby defeat|
|I´m happy at Juventus - Allegri rejects Italy speculation|
|Lamela returns from injury for Tottenham U23s|
|Paine could keep Australia Test spot for years, says Ponting|
|Arsenal 2 Tottenham 0: Ozil and Sanchez come up trumps for Wenger|
|Kimmich: Working with Guardiola was incredible|
|Rose pushes clear as Fleetwood finishes with a flourish|
|Hayne: Fiji slayed a giant|
|Bale thanks Coleman after Wales coach steps down|
|World Cup exit not a negative, insists Kiwis skipper Blair|
|Kane & Alli fit for Spurs at Arsenal, Lacazette starts|
|Sri Lanka close in on first-innings lead in Kolkata|
|Sydney leapfrog slapstick Jets at A-League summit|
|Hamilton: I learned nothing from Rosberg|
|Christensen guides the way for Loftus-Cheek & Abraham at Chelsea|
|Mertens: Sarri´s tactics give Napoli 12 men|
|Bayliss finds positives despite England´s toil|
|Aubameyang back in Dortmund fold pre-Spurs|
|Hafeez should give up bowling after third suspension – Akram|
|Moses heartbroken as Lebanon come up short|
|Fiji upset New Zealand in World Cup quarter-final|
|Marsh desperate to take Ashes chance|
|England struggle in draw against CA XI|
|Spurs erase 23-point deficit to beat Thunder|
|Tonga edge Lebanon to reach World Cup semis|
|Davis suffers concussion against Nuggets|
|Bosz laments ´ridiculous´ goals|
|Broncos GM Elway calls team ´soft´|
|Madrid have best kids stockpiled – Simeone|
|Guardiola backs Stones to get even better|
|Ibrahimovic will start with bench role, says Mourinho|
|Injections to play a friendly – Mourinho slams England over Jones handling|
|Chargers´ Rivers cleared to face Bills|
|Cook grabs RSM Classic lead|
|Nets PG Russell undergoes successful surgery|
|Championship Review: Sheffield United go top|
|Gloucester´s second-half surge stuns leaders Saracens|
|Schurrle: Dortmund couldn´t deal with Stuttgart counter-attacks|
|Conte laments Italy World Cup failure|
|Murray splits with coach Lendl|
|Hartley´s Toro Rosso deal will not affect Porsche status|
|Amiens 1 Monaco 1: Jovetic rescues point but champions give PSG boost|
|Dimitrov eager to keep momentum going after easy Carreno Busta win|
|Stuttgart 2 Borussia Dortmund 1: Bosz pressure builds after more Burki mishaps|
|Sunderland target Coleman steps down as Wales manager|
|Memorable Ashes Moments: Harmison sends down woeful opening wide as England´s defence wilts|
|Conte´s wife tells him to grow a beard – Conte grows a beard|
|Simeone rules out Everton job, promising ´a couple of years at least´ at Atletico|
|Pique to miss Barcelona´s Leganes trip over personal matter|
|Serena Williams reportedly marries Alexis Ohanian in New Orleans|
|UEFA closes Roma ´monkey chanting´ case|
|Swinson set to miss Six Nations after finger surgery|
|Don´t worry about Messi renewal, Valverde tells Barcelona fans|
|Cheika disrespected referee - Jones|
|´Griezmann? We´ll see´ – Valverde won´t rule out Barcelona pursuit of Atletico star|
|Cardinals & Larry Fitzgerald agree to 2018 contract extension|
|Uncapped Enever replaces injured Coleman for Twickenham clash|
|Goffin overcomes slow start & Thiem to set up Federer semi|
|Unsworth surprised to see Allardyce snub Everton|
|Six-week stadium ban for Sale boss Diamond|
|Mourinho has ´immense respect´ for Benitez|
|Howe backs Defoe to make World Cup squad|
|Everton speculation out of my control - Silva focusing on Hornets|
|Conte concerned by Manchester City´s breakaway lead|
|Man City results ´perfect´, but Guardiola demands improvement|
|David Luiz back in Chelsea squad, Conte confirms|
|Recovered Klopp offers Liverpool fitness update|
|Guardiola confident Aguero in ´perfect´ condition despite hospital trip|
|Ibrahimovic, Pogba and Rojo back for Manchester United|
|Fleetwood and Rose look set for desert duel, Fitzpatrick leads in Dubai|