THE mass Liverpool four-man walk-on at Nottingham Forest was Jurgen Klopp’s latest statement that the substitution rules should be updated.
The German manager is practically evangelical in his demand that England should follow the continent and the FA Cup and allow five substitutes in league matches.
Jurgen Klopp showed why he is a huge fan of bringing in five subs for Prem games with a successful mass change against Forest in the FA CupCredit: PA
Midfield general Jordan Henderson was one of four Liverpool players brought on in the 64th minute before Diogo Jota sneaked their late winnerCredit: Rex
Whether or not he did his cause a favour will be decided by the Premier League quite soon.
We have voted on increasing to five subs three times.
Each time it was rejected, mainly because the rule change was proposed after the season had started and a radical change halfway through a season is never a good idea.
For some clubs, there are other reasons to vote against it.
I am sure many among the crowd at Forest’s stadium on Sunday, as well as millions of viewers, gasped at the invasion of four men from the Premier League club’s exceptional player pool to try to beat the Championship side. It worked, too.
Some people think that football pushed equality aside a long time ago.
There are people who believe that the £1.5billion the PL has paid to the wider football pyramid over the last three years is not enough.
They remember the time when the consolation for clubs with smaller crowds was a share of the proceeds home and away.
As for substitutes, when one per team per match was first introduced nearly 60 years ago a famous manager declared in horror that a club could cheat by pretending a player was injured.
He’d have had a blue fit today. You can see why, at least by the standards of those days.
Liverpool kept one player back in case of serious injury in that last 15 minutes or so.
And calling up the cavalry changed a tight contest sufficiently for Forest, unable to call on such back-up, to let in the only goal.
Was this fair? With fixture stress growing, why shouldn’t a club be able to use more of their fine and expensive players to help them win games?
After all at least six of them have been filling the leading positions this century.
And the money their successes have generated has not only benefited their owners and bankers, but also their supporters and the wider football pyramid.
You can only guess what some clubs feel about the prospect of five classy subs stripping off, ready to pull back a one-goal deficit
Judge that by the queue of mainly foreigners to buy Chelsea. Forest would love to be rich and among the game’s aristocracy.
And if they were they, too, would do all they could to remain there, including a choice of five subs.
You can only guess what some clubs feel about the prospect of five classy subs stripping off, ready to pull back a one-goal deficit. No, we can all guess.
Substitutes have become even more essential in rugby than in football.
It is the usual form in internationals for jug-eared, bust-nosed forwards in the range of 16-18 stones to lurch off in threes, fours or fives to be replaced with half an hour to go by a similar number of similar sizes though in clean strips and with more amazing haircuts.
I can’t imagine a change in football’s rule will have such a radical effect.
But two extra steps into the unknown are all but inevitable soon and the side-effects unpredictable except, simply, the bigger the club the wider the advantage.