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Gerrard, Rodgers and Moyes will be furious with rule change



The five subs rule change is yet another case of the elite bullying the rest. Even though it needed 14 votes and has public backing from many


Sub machine
The Premier League’s adoption of the five subs rule from next season is either brilliant or terrible, depending on who has been asked for their opinion at any one point. In this instance it is Ian Ladyman of the Daily Mail and his description of the decision as ‘unconscionable and barely believable’ hardly suggests unwavering support.

He even writes that the change ‘really does tell us that the game has gone’. Which is a natural reaction to learning that managers will be able to make an extra two substitutions if they so wish.

It ‘removes any element of risk and challenge for managers of that select group of fabulously wealthy clubs who can spend indiscriminately,’ he adds.

A reminder, at this stage, that Ligue Un was among the European divisions to implement the five subs rule last campaign. Paris Saint-Germain, perhaps the most fabulously wealthy club who can spend indiscriminately, still finished second behind Lille even when ‘any element of risk and challenge’ was taken away. Atletico Madrid won La Liga ahead of Real Madrid and Barcelona, whose spending to that point had hardly been frugal.

The evidence that it benefits ‘bigger clubs’ with better squads is anecdotal but there is proof that being able to make five subs does not automatically crown the richest sides as champions.

Ladyman continues:

‘If Manchester City’s right back is struggling against an unknown new left winger Crystal Palace have unearthed, Pep Guardiola can make a 15th-minute change.

‘If Chelsea are failing to score yet again, Thomas Tuchel can bring Romelu Lukaku on early. And both managers will still have four internationals ready to step out when their sides begin to tire.’

Two lovely strawmen, there. Let’s ignore that Manchester City made no substitutions in their recent 0-0 draw with Crystal Palace, having made three changes when losing 2-0 to the same side in October, the first of which was John Stones coming on for Kevin de Bruyne.

And Lukaku has been brought on as a substitute seven times in the Premier League this season. He has scored one goal in those appearances.

How can ‘smaller’ clubs possibly compete?

‘No such luxury for Aston Villa, Burnley, Leicester City, Leeds United, West Ham and Wolves, who’ve fought this all the way. But the elite’s nauseatingly predictable pursuit of their wish has borne fruit, taking another chunk out of the competitiveness of the so-called ‘best league in the world’.’

Again, that ‘competitiveness’ was not harmed in other European leagues that implemented the change.

And as for those who have ‘no such luxury’ in terms of bringing their struggling right-back off after 15 minutes against Crystal Palace: Steven Gerrard said in December “it makes total sense” to allow five subs; that same month, Brendan Rodgers stated he “would certainly advocate” it; David Moyes openly backed it 18 months ago; Bruno Lage said in October that it would offer “more solutions to try to change our game”. And these are the managers of the clubs ‘who’ve fought this all the way’?

‘In their 1-0 win at Leicester earlier this season, City had Phil Foden, Riyad Mahrez, Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling, John Stones, Nathan Ake and Fernandinho warming the padded seats.’

And Leicester still made three substitutions to Manchester City’s two.

‘Prepare for football to begin resembling rugby union, where from the hour mark it’s impossible to distinguish who’s on the field.’

Unless it is mandatory for the substitutes to wear masks and full body suits, that really is a load of balls. There are enough legitimate arguments to make against the change before having to pretend that it shouldn’t happen because it will be ‘impossible’ to know who’s playing.

Also, 14 clubs needed to vote in favour of the change for it to be enforced. The Big Six can throw their weight around all they want but they cannot account for an extra eight votes. But hey, this is just more ‘pandering’ to ‘rich clubs’. Just look at how the elite abused the rule change and everyone else ignored it when it was first brought in.


Truck off
There remains a great deal of headline value in Harry Maguire’s name. Dave Fraser of The Sun website is not about to miss out on mining a few more clicks.

‘Harry Maguire is held up on way to training by huge truck as Man Utd star looks to put England boos behind him’

That doesn’t make it sound like a hostage situation whatsoever. The booing was a bit much but now he is being ‘held up’ on his way to work. Good lord.

‘HARRY MAGUIRE was held up on his return to Manchester United training.. by a massive truck!’


There follows many, many more paragraphs on the ‘drama’ that unfolded, as it is recounted just how ‘Maguire was delayed by an advancing lorry’ when ‘a massive truck trundled towards him down the single-track road’.

The centre-half ‘was forced to pull over to the side of the road to allow it to pass before finally making it to the safety of Carrington’.

Yes, the big news is ‘driver gives way’.

‘The defender will now link up with Ralf Rangnick’s squad and other returning international stars, including Cristiano Ronaldo.’

What, now he’s successfully navigated the ‘drama’ of adhering to the highway code?


Manuel handling
In other vehicle-related news on The Sun website, Manuel Lanzini ‘miraculously walked out unhurt’ from ‘a dramatic car smash’ on the A12.

All involved are thankfully fine, but the story did give rise to this quite remarkable quote from a ‘source’:

“Just goes to show, it doesn’t matter how much cash you have – we’re all just as vulnerable to a smash like this.”

Yes, it turns out that rich people can be in car crashes.


Hint condition
Manchester United have been busy, not only extending the contract of Bruno Fernandes but dropping some red hot HINTS.

‘Man Utd drop HUGE hint Paul Pogba will sign new contract at end of season in announcement for new pre-season tour’ – The Sun website.

‘Man Utd drop major double transfer hint with pre-season tour announcement’ – Daily Mirror website.

That ‘hint’? Pogba and Cristiano Ronaldo have been used in promotional material for the club’s pre-season tour of Thailand and Australia this summer.

Same bollocks. Different presentation.


Desperate Ramadan
The Daily Mirror website promise to reveal ‘Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane’s Ramadan plans for Liverpool’s crunch quadruple month’.

By the second paragraph, we are told that Salah and Mane ‘will not publicly speak about their intentions’.

Then comes the fifth paragraph:

‘As Kop boss Jurgen Klopp has said in the past, their religion is private and they won’t be making declarations on when or when they are not observing fasting. What they will ensure is they won’t let it affect their performances.’

So ‘Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane’s Ramadan plans for Liverpool’s crunch quadruple month’ are not publicly known, which is precisely how it should be. Not sure why the undelivered revelation those ‘plans’ had to be teased in a headline, mind.


Big-time Charlie
Question: Will British newspaper journalists ever get over how secretive the Euro 2016 England squad was over the results of their in-house darts competition?

Now over to Charlie Wyett of The Sun:

‘In Russia four years ago at the team base in Repino, 120 televisions were flown over from the UK.

‘The FA also shipped over new bed mattresses for all their staff in contrast to 2016 in Chantilly, when a senior coach complained that the pillows at the five-star hotel were too plump.

‘Equally, he moaned that the air conditioning was too fierce and the players were encouraged not to reveal secrets of their games room and who was the best at pool or darts.’

Answer: No.

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