Joe Crann – So, about those subs… - Five changes, and the thoughts of Sheffield Wednesday's Garry Monk

A rule that was brought in this season to aid football’s restart and the players involved in it has now been extended into the next campaign by the International Football Association Board – but is it the right decision?

Thursday, 16th July 2020, 7:00 pm

For me, there are changes to the rules regarding substitutions that could help, and I completely agree that having five substitutions rather than three was a smart idea in the current situation.

With the season being halted by the Coronavirus outbreak, a couple of extra substitutions has no doubt played a part in the lack of serious injuries that have come about following the return of football last month. It’s allowed managers the chance to keep their teams fresh, and avoid the potential hangover that could have come with such a lengthy break in the middle of the season.

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Do we need it going forward though? In my opinion, certainly not in the current format.

As it is, five substitutions will just strengthen the position of teams with big, expensive benches who can afford to fill their entire matchday squad with potential game-changers, while other clubs will instead be looking to youngsters and plucky squad players who can do a job satisfactorily if and when called upon.

Sheffield Wednesday have been hurt from the bench a couple of times since the restart, notably against West Bromwich Albion and Preston North End, but Garry Monk also admits that the rule has helped them too. And he thinks the three subs rule will return.

Speaking to the media this week the Owls boss said, “From our perspective, it helps us in this period. With the smaller squad we have, being able to do that has helped us. More often than not, with the subs that have come on in our games, they’ve helped us. They’ve had an effect, so that helps us.

Five subs will be allowed once again for Sheffield Wednesday and Co. next season. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

“Moving forward, I can understand why the decision has been made, and it’s not going to change too much. It’s a short turnaround, quicker preparation again, but I’m sure it will return back to three at some point. I can see why they’ve made the decision for the short-term view for now into next season.

“We can all talk about the negatives and positives. If it helps you win a game then you’ll be positive, but the next week if a team is able to bring on five players of quality and it hurts you, then we’ll be moaning about it. That’s just the way it is.”

I’m all for the evolution of the laws. I think the extra substitution in extra-time was a logical step, and I see potential in a rule that could allow more game time for youngsters (possibly keeping five substitutes but two must be under 21 for example).

But after a transfer window, in the new season, five subs without regulation will just open up another way for the rich clubs to maintain their dominance against gutsy ‘smaller’ clubs who can’t bring five superstars on to run at tired legs.

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