They have already started in Germany. Anyone team can use five substitutions over three separate batches in the Bundesliga and I have a feeling it’s here to stay.
Teams across many leagues have agreed to go down this route following Covid-19 and the football comeback as it makes sense whilst the delayed season is played during the hot summer months (especially in hot countries like Spain & Italy) and after all, players fitness levels aren’t perhaps up to their usual scratch either. Some have said ‘NO’… In Portugal for example the lesser clubs state it offers ‘unfair advantage’ to those bigger, depthier squads of Benfica, Sporting and Porto… But getting away from the ‘big club-little club’ debate… When all said and done I think it offers the perfect opportunity to better the game and here’s why…
In the 89th minute of the match between Borussia Monchengladbach and Union Berlin yesterday the biggest cheer of the afternoon was not for the home side netting another in their 4-1 demolition but instead for a player, brought on as a substitute that originally signed for the club in 2016 having waited all of 4 years for his first team debut.
Mamadou Doucore joined Monchengladbach as a promising 18-year-old from Paris Saint-Germain but for a couple of persistent thigh injuries that have held back his career he might have already been a familiar name with the German outfit by now. Instead, he’s spent more time on the treatment table in that time than on the training pitch but yesterday, thanks to the added bonus that Borussia were winning comfortably and that ‘more’ substitutions could be allowed to participate than usual, the young Frenchman now 22 finally got to make his Bundesliga and adult football competitive debut if only for a minute of play in a game that was already won.
This got me thinking… Surely more substitutes available to use means more players (that won’t usually get a game) can be used which also means more youngsters getting games and more competition coming through… Instead of being loaned out to gain ‘experience’ these kids will finally get their opportunity all be it perhaps mostly when games are won at their parent clubs, but Coaches no longer have to upset senior pros in giving youth a chance, they no longer have to loan out unhappy wantaways in order to get them gametime… A win win for everybody involved surely?
The idea of five subs being used might seem hefty but I love the fact that they can only be made during three calls so it would not in theory lengthen our beautiful game too much more either…
Whilst yes I agree, stronger squads will benefit more it also gives us, the fans chance to see more players play and it gives more importantly, the players, more chance to play especially as football these days is much more of a larger ‘squad’ game.
What it will also bring is the option for Managers to facilitate youngsters and allow them to gain valuable experience at the clubs they have graduated at and increase their first team opportunities which for me can only be a great thing for the game and its future.
I get some clubs may use the five sub ruling to use two more international class players on their star studded benches than usual but for the majority, for those further down and even lower towards the bottom of the football ladder this will certainly offer more positives than not. For example the game at grassroots has already imposed in many areas rolling substitutions… The five sub rule can modernise this so that ‘everybody’ gets their game… In the lower leagues from Championship to Conference and beyond the three from five sub situation that usually applies will be ridden, allowing all players on the bench to be used if needed making that Tuesday night trip to Workington not as disappointing with less chance of getting home at 3am after being sub not used.
A simple solution to a situation that has become dated, now football and its 25 man or woman squad game can finally get to show off more of its talented assets and maybe, just maybe through the use of these extra sub places… We might just get one or two more Mamadou Doucoure’s finally getting their chance.