Wolverhampton Wanderers have been asked to explain their team selection for the match against Manchester United. Click here for an in-depth report.
Apparently, there is a clause in Section E of the Premier League Rule 20 which says that a team must field a full-strength XI for a match. In seven years of watching Premier League football closely, this is the first time I’m even hearing of this rule. Just because Wolves are a small club and United a big one, their selecting a below-strength team has become an illegal thing. What about all those times when big teams field reserves and 16-year olds to save players for Champions League games? If this rule had been used on every previous occasion a team fielded a second-string team, Benitez would have had to spend whole weeks in the Premier League office, he seems always to choose the likes of Ngog and Traore over some of his (supposedly) better players.
Wolves boss Mick McCarthy had the perfect response to his team selection causing such an uproar: “At the end of the season I will be judged on whether Wolves have stayed in the Premier League or not. It was my strongest team – because it was a team with fresh legs. I have a squad of 21 to pick from and I regard them all as first-team players.”
Who is the Premier League to decide which is a club’s full-strength team? When I play FIFA in Manager Mode, I have such a squad that I have to keep the likes of Rooney and Henry on the bench, so does that mean I’m fielding a weak team, while starting Messi and Ronaldo? The person who knows best the full strength XI is the manager himself, and no one else. As for the feasibility of this notice, McCarthy can just say all his good players have a cold, and the Premier League can do absolutely nothing about it.
This decision reeks of the Premier League’s inability to do anything about big clubs breaking rules (and that too pointless rules), and it’s the small clubs who have to pay for it.