It’s true that no one likes to be sitting on the bench. Everyone wants to be in the playing XI, but super-subs have always entertained us coming off the bench. We love to watch few players coming off the bench in last few minutes and make a difference for our beloved clubs, but those all days of Super-subs are no longer a treasure in football.
The term super-sub began to really surface in the 1960s when clubs started making more substitutions and the players coming off the bench became part of strategy more than a necessity in most cases. Super sub became a great part of the game and we enjoyed their presence only in last few minutes of the game. They earned a reputation of proven goal scorers to save their team in trouble time and they started to get huge applause coming from the bench.
In Premier League, we loved Xavier Hernandez (Chicharito) as a super-sub for Manchester United, Edin Dzeko for Manchester City, Olivier Giroud for Arsenal, Jermain Defoe for various clubs he has played and Peter Crouch for Stoke City. And if you belong to Baby boomers generation you must have heard of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Perry Groves, and David Fairclough.
In other Leagues, we have Fernando Torres, Kevin Gameiro, Thomas Muller, Thorgan Hazard, etc, but the truth is Super-subs is no longer a treasure in football. We can’t name super-subs from current benches who can go out and make a difference strategically if even they do so it’s just luck.
The riches of football and early limelight have taken away the glories of super-subs. A player in his 17 or 18 is moving to a big club for mega deals, and his obsession to play in playing XI reduces his contribution off the bench. The players sitting on the bench today are more frustrated than before.
We have some great players in great teams sitting on the bench. Real Madrid is world’s richest club and they can afford players like Gareth Bale, Isco, and James Rodriguez on their bench. Do you see any happy faces out there? James already made his move to Bayern on loan, Isco is looking for his next destination and Bale on the radar of many clubs.
If you see any team bench, you won’t see many happy faces out there which reduce their ability to give 100% coming off the bench. They are not involved in the game from outside as much as their manager from sidelines and it can be reflected in their game when they are introduced on the pitch.
Even managers don’t see their bench as a strategic mix, they often look at their bench only when an injury takes place or they want to give rest to their key players for a big game. A club has 18 players in their matchday squad, but the seven on the bench don’t feel as part of the team until and unless they get a place in starting XI.
Former Liverpool super-sub David Fairclough said once, “To be able to come on, get up to speed and make a key pass or score a goal in those last few minutes is a gift for a manager. But it’s an art, not luck.”
Don’t let this art die. We want back our super-subs and one of football’s treasure who has entertained us more than the regular XIs.