No Substitute For Good Management
I reckon most of us could rhyme off the names of The Lisbon Lions from when we were kids. That was drummed into us at the same time as the likes of Baa Baa Black Sheep,etc! Few if any of us could have told you the name of the twelfth Lisbon Lion.
Of course,it was John Fallon. And the use of a substitute goalkeeper had only relatively recently been permitted too; up until 1958,there was no such thing at all as a substitute! If a player was injured,his team was either down to ten men or,with him virtually walking wounded,he would be shuttled out to the wing. The thinking being,presumably,that he was still better than a man short.
On Wednesday night,we saw a Scotland side which had a couple of players who were worse than a man short. This was clearly the result of selection issues from Stevie Clarke-players played out of position or when out of form for their club-along with the simple fact that some players simply did not turn up on the night.
My main problem here is with his use of replacements. Or not,since he only used three.
Jock Stein was famously poor at his use of the one sub available to him. His thinking was that the players who had got the team into a hole could damn well get them out of it. And to be fair,there’s not a lot you can do with a substitute if,say,he is a right back and it is your star winger who gets injured early in the game-as happened to Celtic in THAT game against Thistle. Too often,having only one substitute would mean a mass reshuffle of the side to accommodate his appearance on the pitch.
That single substitute has gradually increased over the years to three in 1995,three plus one in extra time from 2016,and now five per game (though with only three ‘windows’ to do so)
(I’m sure that Ange made SIX substitutions in a match last season,but I can’t track it down,so I must have imagined it.)
With the total number of substitutes available during the normal 90 minutes,it is now possible to make tactical use of the bench without disrupting the side. Managers can make like for like substitutions,throwing on a fresh player to replace the tiring legs of a colleague in a similar role. Or he can throw on a left winger,take off the striker and tell the current left winger to go through the middle. A defensive mid can replace an attacking mid if he lets the current defensive mid to move forward into the vacant role.
Etc,etc-you get my drift.
Ange made very good use of his bench last season,using it like for like when required,or mixing it up when necessary. The only failure he had in this regard,in my opinion,was in Leverkusen,when he replaced our highly effective front three with three players who couldn’t get the ball to stick. And that led to unbearable pressure on our midfield and defence,and ultimately their two late goals. Which cost us dearly.
But he learned from it. What did Stevie Clarke learn on Wednesday night? Well,two goals down five minutes into the second half with at least four of your team underperforming and four subs left shouldn’t have him taking twenty minutes to come to half a decision. And with only minutes left,and still a goal down with two subs to come,that is not a good time to try to bring on a journeyman centre back. When strikers aren’t scoring for their clubs,don’t think you have a magic wand. If a midfielder can’t get a game for the worst side in the EPL in years,ditto.
If you have to play a left back at right back,ask yourself why the best Scottish right back-with NINE assists and SEVEN goals in the season just gone-wasn’t even in the squad. And if most of your players haven’t kicked a ball for a fortnight,ask them how much they have been doing to keep on top of their fitness.
And even though you made a hash of the substitutions on Wednesday night,the new laws made it possible for you to dig yourself out of the hole you were in. But the biggest question Clarke has to ask himself is WHY he was in such a deep hole?
And I think the answer is in the article already. Too many players played out of position,too many out of form players selected. Those players let the manager down,sure. But they should never have been near the team in the first place. But the biggest failure of all was in failing to use the new substitute laws to his advantage. He has to learn from this,as AP did,or it is curtains for him.
Another manager who will be hoping to have learned a few things recently is Stevie Gerrard. All the time he was at Ibrox,the rumour mill had it that Michael Beale was responsible,as his right hand man,for the coaching of the squad. Drumming into every one of them their exact role in the team,the position they should be in when any given colleague had the ball in any given position. His role in getting those players performing as they finally did should never be underestimated. It appears that this has been noticed,and he has replaced Wonderloaf as manager of QPR.
I wish him well. Gerrard now,finally,has the chance to stand on his own two feet and prove himself worthy to be in contention to replace Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool.
No laughing at the back,please…
Above article by BMCUWP