Rangnick reveals his take on substitutions rule

Thursday 23 December 2021 15:41

Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick believes the Premier League should permit five substitutions per match, to help clubs to handle the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Three has mostly been the number in English football, but it was temporarily increased to five in May 2020 to support player welfare amid unprecedented fixture congestion.

The Premier League was the only top European league that reverted to three replacements during the 2020/21 season and that number remains in place now.

During a press conference on Thursday afternoon, to preview United’s upcoming match against Newcastle, Rangnick was asked by journalists for his thoughts. 

“As far as I remember, it was decided that every team could sub five players when COVID started two years ago, or one-and-a-half years ago,” explained the German.

“I think it was the right decision to do that, to have more options, to change players, to save energy for players especially if they have only just recovered from COVID. 

“The same is true right now, so we have a similar situation to the one we had one-and-a-half years ago and therefore I wouldn’t see any reason why it shouldn’t be as it was one-and-a-half years ago. 

“As far as I know, in Europe, England is the only country where they only allow three subs, in all the other big leagues in Europe you can substitute five players. 

“And on the other hand, you are still allowed to have eight outfield players on the team sheet and if you have eight outfield players on the team sheet, you should also be able to replace five, because if you can only replace three, you will always have five who cannot be substituted or cannot play.”
It has been widely reported that the Premier League is to hold two meetings on Thursday afternoon - one with managers, another with captains - to discuss player welfare and fixture congestion.

When asked what he would like to come from the meetings, Rangnick said: “I think most of the things we have already spoken about. It would be of great help to have five substitutes. 

“This would increase and improve the emotional situation in the squad because it's a big difference if you can give five players game time – it’s also about game time – and therefore I would be much more in favour of having five subs. As I said, in other countries, they do that. 

“I think we should seriously think about that once again. I haven't spoken with my players about that, but I don’t need to because I know that most of the players would be in favour of that. 
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“Apart from that, the Premier League will try everything to keep the league safe, to keep the situation around the players safe. At the club, we do that regularly, we have to encourage players to behave in a disciplined way with regards to contact, we also need to make sure we have most of the players vaccinated. As far as I'm aware, we have a high record of vaccinated players here in our club.

“But the past two weeks show that even if you are being vaccinated two or three times, you can still be catching the virus, especially the new virus. You are not being protected [from catching] but at least you are being protected from severe symptoms. And as far as I know, most of our players who were tested positive, at least they had very, very weak symptoms and they didn’t suffer from that.”