The Premier League five substitute rule is a major talking point once again, as it was not kept for the 2020-21 season.
After a vote between all 20 clubs, it was decided it would not be implemented as it was at the end of the 2019-20 campaign following the restart. But managers are already saying that was a big mistake.
Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola were full of respect for one another after Manchester City – Liverpool ended in a 1-1 draw, as the Premier League’s main title contenders proved their class in a pulsating clash.
They also united to double down on asking for the Premier League five substitute rule to be brought back, as the PL clubs playing in Europe have been asked to play three games in seven days for the last month.
Klopp and Guardiola also backed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer who was furious at United being scheduled to play in the early game on Saturday, after playing in the Champions League late on Wednesday in Turkey.
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Klopp was asked by ProSoccerTalk if he was confident that the Premier League could change the rules midway through the season.
We all know that the Liverpool coach isn’t shy in sticking up for what he believes in.
Klopp hits out at Premier League
“In my understanding it is a lack of leadership. You go into a meeting and Richard Masters says ‘we have five subs here, what do you think?’ All of the teams have to understand why it is so helpful. It is not an advantage. It is a necessity. 100 percent,” Klopp said. “It is in all other countries it happens but here, you make a bit more fun of the competition by having only three subs. We have to talk again. That’s why I said it is a lack of leadership from Richard Masters because they sold it completely wrong, in my understanding. Going there and saying ‘what do you think? What do you want and what do you want?’ and then we have this situation. It is the only big league which has only three subs. Surprise.”
Klopp and Guardiola were not surprised. The sarcasm and annoyance in their voice was very real.
Guardiola insists there is no advantage
Speaking to reporters after the game, Pep Guardiola pointed to Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger asking for years for the schedule to be eased in England and echoed Klopp’s calls to bring back the five sub rule.
Guardiola pointed to Trent Alexander-Arnold’s injury and said more will follow.
“Today the right back for the English national team is injured, and other players will follow,” Guardiola warned. “I don’t understand the Premier League or the people, I don’t understand who is in charge to decide these kind of things. I don’t understand how they don’t understand the situation all around the world. All the leagues around the world except this league, maybe because it likes to be different, accepts five subs to protect the players, to protect the football and protect the physicality because the situations is unusual. It is different. That is why I am still surprised and don’t understand. Since I have a microphone and people ask me about this I will have the same theory.
“It is not about taking advantage, it is about protecting the players. Today the right back for the England national team is injured and tomorrow it will be another player but I don’t understand what benefit three or five is. The show must go on, it is not to play games or to not play games or take advantage with one or the other one. It is too much. The previous season finished later. It was different. It was too much. It was exceptional. The situation today is exceptional and all the leagues around the world understand the situation. Except here.”
Should the Premier League five substitute rule return?
This question has multiple layers and isn’t as simple as Klopp and Guardiola are making it seem.
The Premier League is brilliant because all 20 teams have an equal vote and say in the rules of the league. Unlike other top leagues where there is a monopoly and more power for the bigger teams, the 20th-placed PL club has the same voting power as the first-place club.
You can understand why the smaller teams in the Premier League voted against having five substitutes per game. They aren’t playing in Europe and their squads aren’t stretched as much as Liverpool, Man City, Man United, Tottenham, Arsenal and Leicester City.
Why would the smaller Premier League clubs vote to have five subs per game when they can only afford to have two or three decent options off the bench, while the big boys have another 11 players in reserve who are of a very similar level to their starting lineup? The smaller, less wealthy, PL clubs would be basically lowering their chances of causing an upset and gaining points.
That fact above is why Klopp and Guardiola are calling for the Premier League to impose these measures on the teams rather than a vote being held. How likely is that to happen? Not likely at all.
Klopp even suggested just the top six teams being allowed to use five subs in games against one another, but if that happened the integrity of the league would be called into question.
The situation is far from ideal but all 20 clubs had a vote and they voted to go back to three subs per game.
Maybe they can have a vote in the upcoming international break and see if there is a change of heart?