Subbing isn’t easy – just ask Chelsea’s manager

Handling subs is never easy – and most coaches will have had problems on match day when they have to decide who comes on and goes off. There is always an angry mum and dad wanting to know why their son or daughter was on the bench.

Think then about the problem facing the Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri at London’s Wembley Stadium in the later stages of the Carabao Cup final against Manchester City last weekend.

What looked to everyone at the stadium and millions more watching from afar to be a stunning act of insubordination from the goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga as he refused to be substituted.

Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri called for Arrizabalaga wanted backup goalkeeper Willy Caballero to be in goal for the penalty shoot-out but Arrizabalaga wouldn’t budge.

The game went on with the substitution and Chelsea lost on penalties. Subbing players is hard enough without this type of behaviour from someone all young goalkeepers will look up. Not a great example to set

So to help you with your substitutes here is some of the advice I give to coaches who are having trouble with subs.

Winning combinations and the need to develop individuals means that you cannot play matches with the same players on the subs bench. They will fall behind and the team will find it hard to be at their best when injuries or holidays mean players are absent from the team. How to handle the subs helps you to sort out who should be on the bench.

I had a letter sent to me that asked “I rotate my players each week but one dad is not happy his son is going to sit out a match – how should I deal with this?”. Read the email and my answer if you have had similar problems with parents not liking who gets subbed and who doesn’t.

Another assistant coach is having problems because the head coach is only giving some players 10 or 15 minutes on the pitch before subbing them. “Is this acceptable,” he asks? Read my reply and see if you agree.

Finally, Young players are often easily discouraged when they are a substitute or get subbed off and, once they’re feeling demoralised, it can get in the way of their performance on the pitch, so it’s in your interest to keep them in the loop and happy with their role. How to keep your subs involved gives them tasks to do to keep their focus during a game.

Dave Clarke

About Dave Clarke

Dave Clarke is head coach and editor of Soccer Coach Weekly, providing thousands of subscribers worldwide with drills, insight and advice covering all aspects of coaching.

As well as being a skilled journalist and editor, Dave has excellent coaching credentials, having coached U9s – U16s at grassroots level for over 20 years.

He holds a UEFA B license and is qualified in FA Youth Award modules 1, 2 and 3, as well as the Coerver Youth Diploma Module.


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