Football: Hodgson in plea for more subs

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The Independent Online
Roy Hodgson has been in the Premiership five minutes, but that has not prevented the Blackburn Rovers manager from letting officialdom know his ideas on substitutes.

Hodgson's Italian experience has prompted him to call for a change to the rules which allow teams to bring on three of the five players on the bench.

"In Italy you could name 18 players and use three subs," he said. "The next step will be four subs, then five in squads of 20 players. We're all carrying big squads, some have up to 34 senior professionals and it is a bit harsh to leave more than half in the stands every week.

"If I was a player I wouldn't mind being out of the team so long as I felt I was part of the squad. But it's a hell of a blow if you're left in the stand, whereas if you're on the bench at least you feel part of the team.

"That's just a plea from a very selfish trainer to the Premier League to change their rules."

Hodgson added: "The days when you had a very clear first 11 and very set idea about your substitutes are over.

"You can't have the type of squad necessary to do well in the Premiership without having more than 11 really good players. And if you've 16 or 17 players who you think can play in the first team you must keep them all involved as there will be five or six who could get into the starting team at another Premiership club.

"You must accept these days if you're a player that it is a squad game. Manchester United have been proving that with their many talented young players that they leave on the bench, while I had to leave Anders Andersson out of the 16 against Liverpool, yet think he will become a very good midfielder.

"I hope our players understand when we win that it's not just down to the 11 guys who have played 75-90 minutes, but the 20-odd who take part in our training sessions every day.

"It's a cliche, but less of a cliche now than seven years ago and I think we'll see a time when more than 16 players are allowed and more than three substitutes can be used."

Over in Milan, Fabio Capello's concerns were of a far more serious nature as he appealed for an end to hooliganism in Italian football.

The Milan coach, returning to Serie A after a year with Real Madrid, called for a more civilised, Spanish-style approach from the fans when the new season starts on Sunday.

"What I miss is the enthusiasm and the civilised behaviour at Spanish football grounds," he said. "I never saw lines of security people protecting the entrance to the players' dressing-rooms and you don't need to hide the team bus during away matches - you can leave it right in the middle of the crowds outside and nobody's going to throw rocks at it.

"The grounds are all full, with young men and women, and families. And I'd like to see all that this season here in Italy. I'd like a football match here to finally be just a celebration of sport, a joyful happening."

Italian football is regularly marred by acts of violence, with last season's trouble including an attack on the Juventus team bus at Fiorentina.