The Head Coach was handed a decision to make following the fine form of Kevin Wimmer in Jan's absence over 11 weeks and 15 games in all competitions.
Jan came straight back into the starting line-up against United and responded like he'd never been away, re-establishing his partnership with Toby Alderweireld and keeping a clean sheet in our 3-0 win at the Lane.
The pair played every minute of our first 22 league matches before Jan was injured in game 23 at Palace on January 23. Kevin played the next nine in a defensive unit that has conceded just 25 goals in 33 league matches - our best to date over a Premier League campaign is 38 conceded in 38 games (1995-96 and 2005-06).
"My tough decision was to select Kevin to play when Jan was injured because we had alternatives," said Mauricio. "Maybe it was possible to play with Eric Dier and Toby in central defence but we showed trust in Kevin Wimmer and he did very well.
"Jan Vertonghen is one of the leaders in the team, an international, he was fit and deserved to play because he worked very hard for two months. The decision was easy for me.
"It’s tough now for Kevin but he has to keep fighting, try to improve every day and never give up. Maybe now he feels disappointed because he didn’t play but I think he needs to be clever and still fight to put pressure on Jan and Toby."
Meanwhile, the League Managers Association five-man Performance of the Week panel, comprising LMA Chairman Howard Wilkinson, Sir Alex Ferguson, Joe Royle, Dave Bassett and Barry Fry, were in agreement that this week the LG Performance of the Week Award should go to the Club after our 3-0 win against United.
Mauricio will receive a specially commissioned trophy made by world-renowned silversmiths and LMA Partner, Thomas Lyte of London, in a presentation to commemorate the award.