Sheffield United Column: Five-subs talk tips the scales in big boys' favour and must be resisted

After two failed attempts to wield their power and push through a mid-season amendment to the Premier League rule book, it looks like it could soon be third time lucky for the so-called big teams in the top flight in their quest to reintroduce the 'five-subs' rule for the remainder of the season.

Friday, 20th November 2020, 6:00 am
Sheffield United are currently allowed to make three changes per game - but the big boys want to change that to five: David Klein/Sportimage

The ugly issue reared its head again this week when Gareth Southgate, the England manager, publicly questioned the Premier League's decision to revert to three changes for the current campaign.

That was always going to be the thin end of the wedge and the English Football League since voted to revert to nine subs, with five permitted.

Although Premier League clubs recently voted against going back to the bigger squads, first seen after Project Restart last season, it's understood that several managers from non-top six clubs - including David Moyes, of Sheffield United's opponents this weekend, West Ham - are in favour of it.

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Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the depth of talent at their disposal, it was the likes of Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola who led the calls recently, citing an increase in injuries and fatigue caused by the delayed start to this season, and consequently congested fixture schedule.

Absolutely nothing at all, I'm sure they would protest, to do with packing another couple of world-class players on the bench. Guardiola was that concerned about player burn-out and fatigue that he made ONE change when his side faced Liverpool before the international break. Klopp made two.

Now they insist they need to make FIVE, for the good of the game?

Why not look within, at their vast teams whose job it is to prevent muscle injuries? Rather than complain when, using City as an example again, your options to replace the injured Sergio Aguero happen to be Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus and Ferran Torres?

Manchester United made five changes at once against United last season: Michael Steele/NMC Pool/PA Wire

United, to their credit, have been steadfast in their opposition of five substitutes, and will continue to do so if - or more likely when - it is raised again.

They feel that changing the rules of a competition after it has started undermines them completely. Last season, it was essential, in the most extraordinary of circumstances. This time around, it smacks of yet another bid by the big boys to tip the scales in their favour.