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The Use Of The Substitute

There was a time - long ago it seems now - when two sides, trusty and true, were put out to battle (as it were) to determine which side was the better. The skill of the joust was as important as the result. Sometimes, two or three 'jousts' had to be played in the same number of days, in the days of old. Once, two 'jousts' were played on the same day.

Sometimes, a side that had a lost a player or two (through injury) still won. There is a marvellous account of how the black knight (Frank Barson) once played like 4 men to fill the gaps left by THREE of his side that had been injured and had to leave the field.

Then they said that the injuries at the big occasions were getting too numerous, and it was unfair that a side should have to play through perhaps three-quarters of the match with the handicap of less than the full number.

The age of the substitute was born.

Of course, the manager with the nous and the win-at-al-costs mentality encouraged a player to feign injury so that the substitute could come on. And then the number of substitutes started increasing. And then they started bringing substitutes on with 3 or 2 or 1 or 0 minutes to go ... just to slow things down.

It's a sham. Yes, and when they bring on a skilled 17/18-year-old (coming on 27) with just a few minutes to go, of course the daisy-fresh young man is likely to turn a match that was just before going against his team. The guile-less opposing manager also has a 17/18-year-old that might just have similarly achieved a score, but he opts for safety-first. Yes, that man - it could be said - was at fault for not being as brave as his opponent.

But, perhaps there is an alternative to this last-10-minutes lunacy. Perhaps we can go back to a more level playing field.

A return, please, to the fight to the end. Okay, not perhaps as it used to be, but instead in not allowing a substitute on in (say) the last 15 minutes of a match, unless there is a case of serious injury.

In such a case, if the red knights had been behind and still won in the last 15 minutes (+), we would probably have said that the best team had won. Wouldn't we?

John Lerwill




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The Journalist

Writer: John Lerwill Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Wednesday April 8 2009

Time: 9:54AM

Your Comments

Times move on John and while I'm as keen as the next to gain whatever advantage I can for Villa, the rules are the same for all teams, mangers and players Some just exploit them far better
avfc48
If that rule is imposed then the players will start faking injuries in the last 15 minutes. Anyway,i think substitutions reward teams with good squads and maybe in the years to come football can implement rolling substitutions(like most sports)
Yid_from_India
Yid, I said "serious injury" ... there would have to be clearly a good reason why the player had to go off, not an easy escape route. And "rolling substitutions" is just the sort of thing that would kill our game. Already it's alost much of the skill and comabtiveness that was typical of the English game - which was the point of my post!
the_lergy
"Times move on", you say, Malc. I think even you would agree that when a bad law exists it's time to change it. I believe the substution matter (as it is) is a bad egg.
the_lergy
Yes, bad! A very bad egg, until it works in our favour! Anyway, Mac Chedda's other touches were not outstanding but could be a career to watch.
RiF
Rolling subs...NOOOoooooo.....I can see it now.....Villa concede a free kick on the edge of their own area and ManUtd implement an 'Attacking Play' and bring on Christiano Ronaldo to take the kick. He misses. Off the pitch he goes again, to be replaced by a 45 year old Ryan Giggs. I sincerely hope this is not the future! I think the current rules are fine - we wouldn't be sitting here having this discussion if Villa had done the same thing.
YatesyVillain
Sadly some managers make changes for changes sake, when it works its a master-stroke when it makes no difference its a masturbate-stroke.
col8
I was elated to find yesterday - completely by accident - a passage in Billy Walker's book ("Soccer in The Blood", 1960, p.68) where he intimates he'd be happy with substitutions *in the first half of the match*! Similar thinking to mine methinks ....
the_lergy
RiF ... "until it works in our favour". Agsin, I think the point is being missed. My thinking was intended to apply to all ... I see virtually no benefit to the degree that subs are used and it just helps to discredit the sport.
the_lergy
Excellent article. Very enjoyable, and interesting read. Yes, I can remember well the days when there were no substitutes allowed, not even goalkeepers. My, how times have changed, and progressed(?).
glensider
 

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