Pep Guardiola’s demand for return to five substitutes has Premier League rivals perplexed as it’s revealed only two sides make FEWER changes than the Manchester City boss… as clubs stand firm in their belief move is unfair
- Premier League clubs are deeply divided over top sides’ calls for five substitutes
- Manchester City boss Pep Guadiola has led calls to increase the number of subs
- Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp claim it’s necessary to protect players from injury
- But Burnley statistician tells Pep to ‘bore off’ because he doesn’t use all his subs
Pep Guardiola has led the campaign to allow five substitutes in the Premier League, but the Manchester City boss rarely makes use of the three reserves he can already play.
The Citizens’ manager has been called out by the Burnley statistician, Dave Roberts, who was quick to point out after City’s 1-1 draw with Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday that Guardiola only used one substitute in the tightly-contested game.
‘Bore off, Pep,’ he wrote on Twitter. ‘The Premier League clubs have voted against it. Twice. Manchester City has sufficient resources to rotate their squad, and for this not to be an issue.’
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola is calling for five substitutes in the Premier League
Roberts expressed a view shared by other Premier League teams with fewer resources than City, who fear allowing more subs would hand further advantage to clubs with deep squads.
The debate around substitutes has sharpened in recent weeks as the number of muscle injuries in the Premier League has increased, with Trent Alexander-Arnold limping off for Liverpool on Sunday with a calf strain.
After the Etihad encounter, Guardiola and Liverpool boss, Jurgen Klopp, joined forces to pile on the pressure for change.
But the City manager uses fewer subs than almost all other Premier League coaches
‘All around the world it’s five substitutions, but here we believe we are more special people,’ said Guardiola.
‘We don’t protect the players, and that’s why it’s a disaster. In this calendar, especially. I will demand, if the people allow, we have to come back to five substitutions. If not, it’s difficult to sustain it.’
However, in seven Premier League matches this season, Guardiola has only used his full complement of three substitutes on two occasions. In two games, he has only used one.
In fact, an analysis of Premier League substitutions this term reveals City are ranked 18th for the number of substitutions they make, averaging only two changes per game, above Burnley and Aston Villa, on 1.7.
Burnley have used the least substitutes in the Premier League this season
Liverpool don’t use all their substitutes either, averaging 2.8, and they are ranked 10th.
Arsenal, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur have used three reserves in every match.
Guardiola defended his position after the game on Sunday. ‘Because I am the manager and decide how many times, I want to do it,’ he said. ‘If I use the rule or not it is my problem.’
The top teams, who are competing in Europe, insist the number of games and turnaround times between fixtures mean five substitutes would take the pressure off players and prevent injuries.
Jurgen Klopp (left) and Guardiola have called for a rethink on the sub rule to aid player welfare
Manchester United boss, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, claimed his side were being set up to fail when they played Everton at 12.30pm on Saturday.
The fixture came only 56 hours after they returned at 4am on Thursday from Turkey, where they faced Istanbul Basaksehir in the Champions League the previous night.
Last season, following Project Restart, five substitutes were allowed in the Premier League because a lot of games were played in a short period.
In ten matches last season, Guardiola used the full complement of five substitutes on four occasions. In one match, against Southampton he only used two.
The big clubs believe that a similar five-sub rule should apply now because of the late start to the season and compressed fixture schedule.
Sheffield United will continue to oppose the likes of Manchester City over their demands
But the issue of substitutes was discussed by the Premier League and clubs voted to keep the number at three.
Clubs with less resources, like Sheffield United, have been vocal in opposing Guardiola and co.
‘We remain suspicious that big clubs simply want to be able to sub off players to rest them to keep them fresh… the bigger the club, the stronger the bench,’ Sheffield United chief executive Stephen Bettis told Sky Sports.
‘Any change of rules mid-season will clearly affect the integrity of the league… the 20 clubs have voted not once but twice to reject five subs. The bigger clubs managed to find a way to have the vote held a second time and again they lost.’