Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughTeam selection: Now we’re thinking clearly - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough Team selection: Now we’re thinking clearly - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Team selection: Now we’re thinking clearly

Yes, you heard it right. In a rare moment of clear-thought at Premier League HQ, the men in suits have finally allowed common sense to prevail, by relaxing the rules on team selection. As of the coming season, Premier League managers will be free to select their matchday squads from their registered squad of 25 players, plus under-21 ‘home-grown’ players, without restriction as to which combination of players the manager selects.

After two high profile cases in recent years, with Mick McCarthy’s Wolves side receiving a suspended £25,000 fine after making 10 changes for a Premier League game away to Manchester United followed by Ian Holloway’s Blackpool being forced to pay a fine of the same amount last season for an away fixture at Aston Villa. After much debate, and public protest from those involved, the authorities felt Blackpool failed to heed the warning from Wolves’ previous run-in with the Premier League and the penalty was imposed, with only Blackpool Chairman, Karl Oyston managing to keep Holloway from resigning from his post in protest at the ruling.

While both caused great debate, it was the latter that would seem the more farcical, given that the beginning of that season (2010/11) saw the introduction of the 25-player-squad rule, in that every Premier League squad registers a squad of 25 players to select their matchday squads from, with the additional option of including an unlimited number of ‘homegrown’ players. Given that Holloway’s matchday squad was not in breach of these regulations, it is clear to see there was a conflict between this new rule and the now defunct rule E.20, which declares that “in every league match, each participating club shall field a full-strength team”. Given that Holloway declared his squad along with his fellow top-flight coaches, and selected his matchday squads from the selected 25 and the eligible youngsters, it is then a matter of interpretation and opinion, as to what is a manager’s strongest squad. After all, the circumstances of each game, given their implications or timing in the fixture list, often dictate the manager’s thinking.

If Chelsea opt to start Fernando Torres ahead of Didier Drogba, despite his superior goal tally last season, is that a weakened side? Should Sir Alex Ferguson choose to rest Wayne Rooney, with one eye on an upcoming Champions League tie, with Michael Owen his replacement, would this be failing to ‘field a full-strength team’? Given Roberto Mancini’s decision at the beginning of last season to select Joe Hart as number one goalkeeper ahead of the more experienced Shay Given, would any staunch Given supporters on the Premier League panel have called for a £25,000 fine? While all of these examples of course represent extreme (and hypothetical) cases, it is all further proof that managers make decisions based on their own judgement, the calibre of such informed opinions being what secured their managerial employment in the first place.

While the Premier League have still kept a limited restriction in place, reserving the right to act should a club field excessive numbers of young players, in a move agreed by club representatives at the Premier League AGM, in a move to maintain the integrity of the competition, in a game where managers face the consequences of their decisions at club level, in a manner far more clinically than ever before, this rule change allows managers the freedom to run their sides based purely on their own judgement. Lets hope this moment of common sense prevailing is not the last.

Daniel Clarke (


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