A closer look at the art of the substitution and why Jose Mourinho should be admired

I would like to issue a warning before you (hopefully) read this blog post. 

You may find the subject matter a little dull. For me, though, I believe it to be an intriguing tactical intricacy of a football game. I am, of course, talking about substitutions.

The right switch of players at the right time can have a very significant impact on the outcome of a football game. Smart managers know when to make a sub and it is down to how well they know their squads and their reading of the game. 

I’m not Jose Mourinho’s biggest fan but I comprehend that he is a very talented and astute manager. During Real Madrid’s Champions League second tie against Manchester United last season Mourinho made one of the most effective and smart substitution I have seen in a game of that magnitude.

Following Nani’s controversial sending off Mourinho brought Luka Modric, an attacking midfielder, for right back Arvalo Arbeloa. The next ten minutes proved to be where Madrid won the tie as Modric equalised and Cristiano Ronaldo scored the winner. 

Sometimes the right sub is obvious. For example, Arbeloa (he’s always getting subbed) was torn apart during the final of Sunday’s Confederation Cup final between Spain and Brail. A clear weak link and Spain manager Vincente del Bosque duly took note and brought on Chelsea’s Cesar Azpilicueta to replace Arbeloa at half time. 

The half time substitution is a brave move and is rarely seen but considering Spain were down two goals, a position they rarely find themselves in, del Bosque knew swift action had to be taken in order to stop the bleeding.

It didn’t work out as Fred extended Brazil’s lead to 3-0 just two minutes after the break but that is just how football goes from time to time.

The substitution, if used wisely, can be a manager’s best friend but, inevitably, from time to time it will backfire.