There`s no doubting that the game has changed enormously over the years.
As a young lad I can still recall team sonly being allowed to nominate one substitute and he was only used in the event of an injury occurring that meant that the injured player could not continue.
Back in those days there was no such thing as a tactical substitution, a team, barring injury, finished with the same eleven they`d started with.
Matters started to evolve when the number son the bench increased from one to three and then further again up to five and to what we now have, a massive seven players on the bench.
The advent of such an increase in numbers has given teams the ability to switch tactics in a match whilst also withdrawing players who have the slightest of knocks.
Many will argue that it could very well be to the detriment of the flow of the game, with managers keen to wind the clock down late on if they`re leading.
But continuing on the numbers theme, the squad sizes these days have also increased dramatically. In the period of time I first mentioned earlier in this article, a manager only used to have fourteen or fifteen players to call upon, which climbed to such a high number (at some clubs) that squad size restrictions have now been introduced.
The game itself has also changed with it being a faster, slicker game now and although people harp on about the players of old, I doubt whether a team of old could live with a modern day top six Premier League side.
But another side-effect of the growth of the game is that teams, courtesy of lengthy European competitions, play more games in a season with the best out there being asked to play somewhere between 55 and 60 games a season prompting Sir Alex to remark in the tabloid press this morning,
"To ask a footballer to play 50 games in a season at 100 per cent is impossible."
"There has to be off days. On a given day, if eight players on your side are playing well you`ve a great chance of winning."
Two interesting statements and you have to ask just how many games you`d expect a player to play and to perform at his best whilst also surmising that our wonderful eleven-a-side game basically boils down to the best eight against eight.
Your views on this lengthy muse would be appreciated!
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