Wednesday - June 28, 2017
Home    About    Writers    Links    Contact     RSS

About the Author

Bobby McMahon

Bobby McMahon

You can see me on Soccer Central most Mondays and Thursdays on Rogers Sportsnet in Canada. I write a regular column for and and frequently guest on various podcasts and radio shows.


Manchester United’s Double Substitution – Was It Really A Big Risk?

Written by on January 30, 2011 | 9 Comments »
Posted in Manchester United

Manchester United used one substitute at half time in the game against Southampton bringing on Wes Brown for Fabio at full back. United trailed 1-0 at the break and after about ten minutes of the second half Sir Alex Ferguson decided it was time to stir things up.

As Giggs and Nani stood ready to enter the game with over 30 minutes remaining colour commentator Matt Jackson noted that the Manchester United manager was taking a big risk.

After all an injury – or even injuries – would force United to play with less than their full complement of players for however long was left in the match.

Not wishing to call Jackson to task on the comment because he only said what millions of viewers probably thought, but…….was it really that much of a risk?

United were playing a team two divisions below them but were trailing 1-0. The chances were heavily in favour of United dominating possession for the remainder of the game (despite playing so badly to that point) given their superior technical skill.

That advantage would stand up whether they had ten or eleven players on the field.

Such United domination and their greater ability to manage the game would very likely lead to Southampton tiring to a significant extent especially in the last quarter of an hour of the match.

What’s more if Southampton continued to lead, or even if the game was tied, the human reaction (as the underdog) would be to hold what they had and defend ever deeper as the game progressed.

This scenario would surely mean that United would have little in the way of Southampton attacks to be concerned with over the last 30 minutes.

All these points add up to Fergie’s move being less of a risk (certainly not a big risk) and more of a case of an experienced manager assessing the situation with a cool head.

He decided that his best course of action was to shake the team up and to give the two substitutes enough time to impact the match.

In addition, the message was also sent to the eleven players on the field after the double-substitution that it was up to them and they had no other option but to get the job done – whether they be tired or injured.

For another manager in another situation the move might have been a very risky one but for Manchester United in Saturday’s specific situation it was not.

You can get updates through RSS (top of the page), follow at Twitter BobbySoccerRep, or on Facebook

9 responses to “Manchester United’s Double Substitution – Was It Really A Big Risk?”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by RICHARD STRYPE, bobbysoccerrep. bobbysoccerrep said: Did Fergie take a big risk with an early double substitution? […]

  2. Soccerlogical says:

    Bobby – What I don’t understand is the logic behind Matt Jackson’s comment that the Manchester United manager was taking a big risk.

    What’s so unusual and risky about using your last 2 subs to come on simultaneously when you are trailing in the game with only 30 mins left and need to make a big impact?

    If anything, Fergie’s unusual and risky tactic is playing the useless Darren Gibson whose only skill is hammering a long-shot from 30 yards straight into the rafters in 9/10 attempts.

  3. Ian says:


    Really glad I found you lot!! Been going without for two years.

    I was wondering what your thoughts were on the actual subs SAF made. Anderson and Gibson made sense but what was your take on Fabio? It was never really clear to me if that was a injury related swap or tactical. If it was tactical, what was the rational behind bringing Brown in?

    Ian (Ulsterson)

  4. Ian – The assumption appears to be an injury but I have not seen anything mentioned in reports today. If it was tactical it might have been because SAF was unhappy with how United were defending in wide positions and also that little seam that Chaplow was exploiting around the old inside right position.

    Oberton doesn’t look to be the most diligent of wide attacking players as far as tracking back is concerned.

    O’Shea’s versatility is underrated I believe and it is a real bonus for United to have him back.

  5. ttred says:

    Bobby – Totally agree with you on O’Shea. I have no idea why even some of our own “supporters” seem to dislike him so much.

  6. Ian says:

    Ahh. I didn’t really think about the switch of O’Shea coming over when Brown came in and it not just being a Brown for Fabio sub. Good point.

  7. Theo van Arshavregas says:

    ManU’s midfield isn’t what it used to be. Fergie made the necessary move soon enough @ 55′. I wish Le Boss would pull the trigger as quickly when things aren’t working out. One of the Frenchman’s greatest criticisms is that he is slow to make needed changes.


    spot on MAN UTD midfield is a mess with the players they have there is no future.close call in the FA poor call for the penalty.sorry to see Nasri get hurt like i said your stars are to fragile.
    tough weekend for Forest fans wanted them to win but might work out for best promotion is #1 goal so might not want the extra games.trying to look at the glass half full.

  9. Theo van Arshavregas says:


    Very sad about Nasri indeed. Due to an untimely injury of unknown duration, my pen name has changed from TvN to TvA. Hopefully, this is an omen for Arshavin to get off the schnide due to necessity.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

House Rules

Please refrain from posting comments that;

  • Attempt to demean, intimidate or bully fellow readers
  • Are racist, sexist, homophobic, sexually explicit, intolerant or otherwise abusive
  • Includes language likely to offend or attempts to try and circumvent this request
  • Could be considered spam

The House reserves the right to delete any such comments and to block further participation on the site.

Soccer Report Extra
© copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
Designed and Developed by:
Bills'eye + Underscorefunk Design