Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick has called on the Premier League to reintroduce five substitutions, while also suggesting that the EFL Cup should be abolished to tackle fixture congestion.
The Red Devils face a fixture backlog after their Premier League games with Brentford and Brighton and Hove Albion were called off due to a coronavirus outbreak in their camp.
United now have virtually a full squad to choose from ahead of next Monday’s return to league action against Newcastle United, with the exception of injured midfielder Paul Pogba.
But in the wake of Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson accusing officials of failing to take player welfare seriously, and Jurgen Klopp questioning the quick turnaround in fixtures prior to the Reds’ Boxing Day clash with Leeds United being called off, Rangnick believes there are a couple of solutions.
“The five subs were implemented when COVID started, and I think it was the right decision to do that to save energy for players, especially if they have just recovered from COVID,” Rangnick said at his pre-match news conference on Thursday.
“The same is true right now – we are in a similar situation to the one we had one-and-a-half years ago, therefore I don’t see why it shouldn’t be as it was one-and-a-half years ago. As far as I know, in Europe, England is the only country where they only allow three subs.
“You’re still allowed eight players on the team sheet, you should be able to replace five or you will always have five players on the bench who cannot be substituted on and cannot play.”
The Premier League introduced the five substitutes rule when football resumed in June 2020, but the competition reverted back to the usual three permitted alterations ahead of the 2020-21 campaign.
“I think it would be of great help to have five subs,” Rangnick added. “I would be much more in favour of having five subs. I think we should seriously think about that again. Most of the players would be in favour of that.”
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United have played 23 games in all competitions this season, with Chelsea leading the way in that regard among clubs in Europe’s top five leagues with 28 matches so far this term.
Rangnick, who is nearly a month into his first coaching position in English football, also proposed the EFL Cup – which United have won on five occasions in its various guises – should perhaps be scrapped to free up more space in an already-congested season.
“England is the only league in the top five leagues in Europe that plays two cup competitions,” he said. “France abolished the other one I think a year or two ago.
“This is something we could maybe speak about and discuss. I know the Carabao Cup has been kept for the third and fourth division teams to recoup the financial situations of those clubs.
“I think if we talk about a tight calendar and playing too many games – this is something we can discuss.
“The other issue, which has been changed in the last weeks, is in the FA Cup after a draw you have a replay. I think this [change] is a good idea.
“In other countries you play extra time and penalties and you never have that replay situation. Those might be issues that you can talk about.”