Vital Football

Latest Manchester United News

Did Benítez Have To Answer To The PL In 2007?

Did Benítez Have To Answer To The PL In 2007?

Oh, righteous anger emanating from the press and from Joe Public is threatening to destroy Wolves manager Mick McCarthy after he had the nerve to shuffle his squad for the visit to Old Trafford, his priority having been to avoid further injuries to key players ahead of a relegation six-pointer against Burnley.

He made ten changes to the team that beat Spurs and now some people suggest that points should be deducted from Wolves and the Premier League officially asked for an explanation from him. Everyone cites the rule that categorically expresses that all participating clubs must field their strongest possible XI in any Premier League game.

I'm sorry but that's rubbish, and for a whole load of reasons. First, how do you enforce such a rule? Second, if every team has a clear, certain strongest XI, managers are unnecessary. But please tell me United's best central midfield. Please enlighten me that who is United's best right-back. Tell me, are we better off with a 4-3-3 formation or should we play with two strikers up front? Did Fergie violate the rule by not starting Fletcher ahead of Gibson yesterday?

First team squads are there for a reason. All 20-25 players are paid to compete when called upon, all of them are senior professionals. If any manager fields his reserves or the Academy side, he can be punished. But he should be allowed to field whomever he sees fit out of his first team squad, really.

Back in 2007, Liverpool beat Chelsea 1-0 at Anfield and advanced to the Champions League final. Rafa Benítez therefore decided to give a rest to his key players for the subsequent league game at Fulham which was meaningless for the dippers but vital for relegation-threatened Fulham. The Cottagers won 1-0 against a Liverpool team that contained only two of the players who started against Chelsea.

Fair enough, there was an outcry back then as well. But at least the Premier League did not ask for an official explanation - or is my memory playing tricks with me here? I certainly could not find any evidence of it. And there was no reason for it, either: Benítez did nothing wrong back then and neither did McCarthy yesterday. They both selected senior professional players for a competitive game.

Or to look around our own backyard: last year there were whispers that we will rob Newcastle of any chance to stay up by fielding the second string on the last day at Hull City. The sweet irony was that the fringe players deservedly beat an anaemic Hull side but what if they hadn't done so? I believe that Fergie still could not have been blamed even if we had lost. It might sound cruel and heartless but for us the Champions League final was a little more important than Newcastle's survival...

The Mirror's Martin Lipton wrote that McCarthy essentially gave United a 37-game domestic season as he handed the points on a plate. Correct me if I'm wrong but his team did compete, they even had a great chance to go ahead and they were focused on the job throughout. As for the argument that the players lacked the necessary quality: well, Exeter got a draw at Old Trafford in 2005. Did they have superior players compared to Wolves' second string?

The bottom line is: managers should be allowed to pick whomever they want of their first team squad. I promise that I will have no complaints if McCarthy fields the same XI as yesterday when they host Chelsea in the second half of the season.

Win FREE pizza with Vital Football!
Select your team and get 50% off if they score twice.

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

Date:Wednesday December 16 2009
Time: 6:37PM


Well said. I really dont understand all the hype from the press and the reaction from some of the media. Lets face it, we did not put out our youth team. The team was full of internationals and under 21 internationals. Also Zubar, Surman, Foley, Iwelumo, Jones were all in need of a game as all were coming back from injury. The rest of the squad also needed to play 90 mins of football. As you have stated this is a squad game and we have 21 fit players at the moment. I can imagine if we had fielded Doyle, Henry, Milijas etc and then picked up a few injuries then people would be questioning MM for playing them in the first place.
16/12/2009 19:17:00
Oh, look, Chelsea have made 7 changes for tonights game v Portsmouth....hope the FA ask questions....... ;-)
16/12/2009 19:30:00
ooop meant the Leauge not FA DOH !
16/12/2009 19:32:00
Err 7 changes for Portsmouth ! (need new glasses and a hearing aid!) Apologies guys and gals..
16/12/2009 19:36:00
Very good point Zae
One United 23
16/12/2009 22:31:00
It is ridiculous and it is because it happened against united. The top four do this ALL the time. We do it in the league cup, we do it when important champions league games are coming up and we do it in the champions league when important league games are coming up. If the top 4 have been allowed to get away with it - with their massive squads and resources - why should wolves' smaller squad not be just as entitled to rest players in such a congested period? If they had more time between games, I could understand the objection.
16/12/2009 23:45:00
The idiots in charge are usual going with the flow.
17/12/2009 01:10:00
Excellent points. I enjoyed the game and although I was freaking out at the beginning when I saw the line up, the boys played well. Zubar handed the penalty out and perhaps if he hadn't the match would have been a closer contest. Wolves have had a lot of injuries and can't afford to play the same players on Saturday, Tuesday and Sunday. Squads are squads and all the players can play. The PL can't tell him who to pick!
17/12/2009 06:12:00
As long as those players are in the squad its totally irrelevant who's picked. Although I must admit I do empathise with Wolves fans having to come OT to not watch their first choice players, reminds me of the Everton semi-final last season in ways. I'm not a fan of Mick McCarthy but credit to him for being honest and up front on why he did it.
17/12/2009 14:02:00
Page 1/1
  1. 1

Login to post a comment

Recent Manchester United Articles

Norwich (a) - The Men In Charge Are?

Read on and find out!

Norwich (a) - Stat Attack

Some weird, wonderful and strange facts for you to mull over.

United Interested in Young Polish Keeper

But so are Glasgow Rangers!

City Let Themselves Down!

And it could affect Manchester United.

Archived Vital United Articles

Vital United articles from

Site Journalists

Red Boy
Editor email
Charlie Bacchus
no email

Current Poll (see more polls)

Norwich City v Manchester United?
Suggested By: Red Boy
Norwich to Win!25%
United to Win!50%
A Draw!25%
ScoopDragon Premier League Network Sites

League Table

# Team P W D L Pts. GD
C Leicester City 36 22 11 3 77 30
2 Spurs 36 19 13 4 70 39
3 Arsenal 36 19 10 7 67 25
4 Man City 36 19 7 10 64 30
5 Man Utd 35 17 9 9 60 12
6 West Ham 35 15 14 6 59 17
7 Southampton 36 16 9 11 57 14
8 Liverpool 35 15 10 10 55 11
9 Chelsea 35 12 12 11 48 7
10 Stoke 36 13 9 14 48 -14
11 Everton 35 10 14 11 44 6
12 Watford 35 12 8 15 44 -6
13 Swansea 36 11 10 15 43 -13
14 WBA 36 10 11 15 41 -14
15 AFC Bournemouth 36 11 8 17 41 -20
16 Crystal Palace 36 10 9 17 39 -10
17 Newcastle 36 8 9 19 33 -25
18 Sunderland 35 7 11 17 32 -18
19 Norwich 35 8 7 20 31 -26
R Aston Villa 36 3 7 26 16 -45
Latest F1 News
Latest Vital Boxing News

Recent Manchester United Results (view all)

Manchester United Fixtures (view all)

May 7 2016 12:45PM : Norwich City (a)
Barclays Premier League
May 10 2016 7:45PM : West Ham United (a)
Barclays Premier League
May 15 2016 3:00PM : AFC Bournemouth (H)
Barclays Premier League
May 21 2016 5:30PM : Crystal Palace (a)
FA Cup

Vital Members League Table

1.Cathal P Forde1