Football: Logic of Strachan hard to follow
Monday 21 December 1998
CALL THIS old fashioned, but surely the idea of substitutions, when the scores are level, is to produce a goal. So the reasoning of Gordon Strachan, when Coventry had been pegged back to 1-1, in leaving the country's second leading goalscorer on the bench for 88 minutes must remain hidden in managerial subterfuge.
Coventry City need goals. They also understand their place in the food chain that is football's natural hierarchy. So they sold the man now the Premiership's leading scorer for pounds 5.75m (and next day Dion Dublin scored twice for Aston Villa); six weeks later they bought a 22-year-old, 17- goal marksman (and next day John Aloisi was named as substitute).
Fair play; no flaw in the argument thus far. But when relegation-threatened Coventry, to hand back their full title temporarily mislaid last season, have failed to capitalise on total first-half dominance against Derby players still musing over what to buy the wife for Christmas, then logic suggests that throwing on a youngster keen for success might be a handy tactic.
But when did logic have anything to do with football? Last week Jim Smith, the Derby manager, played three substitutes and saw one, his goal-hungry striker Dean Sturridge, grab an equaliser against Chelsea. This time he threw on a centre-back and a defensive midfielder and saw the latter, Lee Carsley, equalise Noel Whelan's first-half effort.
"Football's becoming more and more of a squad game and, fortunately, we've got a good squad," said Steve McClaren, the Derby coach. "John's not had much time with us," said Strachan. "But his time will come," and recalled how, last January, when leading at Chelsea, he brought on a fourth striker in giving Viorel Moldovan his debut. "I got my fingers burned," said Strachan. "We went from 1-0 up to 3-1 down."
Maybe fortune favours the brave. Certainly Strachan threw down the gauntlet to his first-choice forwards in buying Aloisi from Portsmouth for pounds 650,000 and he has a longer-term view than one Midlands derby. Whelan responded well, looking sharp from the off, snapping up his sixth goal of the season when Mart Poom could only parry Steve Froggatt's 17th-minute shot. But when he fired over the bar when well-placed two minutes into first-half injury time, Derby appreciated their reprieve.
Smith clearly has the golden touch with substitutions. He asked the left wing-back Rory Delap to play as an inside- forward and, assisted by the striker who did survive the half-time chop, Paolo Wanchope, it was the former Carlisle midfielder who centred for Carsley to score on the turn. It was the Republic of Ireland international's first goal for 15 months. But, then, Derby clearly know how to make their substitutions pay.
Goals: Whelan (17) 1-0; Carsley (50) 1-1.
Coventry City (4-4-2): Hedman; Nilsson, Shaw, Williams, Edworthy (Breen, 73); Telfer (Boateng, 85), McAllister (Aloisi, 88), Soltvedt, Froggatt; Huckerby, Whelan. Substitutes not used: Ogrizovic (gk), Shilton.
Derby County (3-4-3): Poom; Prior, Carbonari, Laursen; Delap, Powell, Bohinen, Dorigo (Hunt, 66); Sturridge (Elliott, h-t), Wanchope, Harper (Carsley, h-t). Substitutes not used: Hoult (gk), Christie.
Referee: U Rennie (Sheffield).
Bookings: Coventry: Telfer, Froggatt. Derby: Dorigo, Powell, Delap, Wanchope.
Man of the match: Shaw.
Liam Neeson's Downton dreams
Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage
Latest in Sport
Think before you ink: Manchester United fan gets Sir Alex Ferguson tattoo - and will regret it for the rest of his life
Mario Balotelli: Staff at arson-hit Manchester Dogs' Home convinced Liverpool striker is behind five-figure donation
Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal: Mesut Ozil given the worst rating possible by German newspaper Bild after poor performance
Colombian women's cycling team kit that makes wearer appear naked is branded 'unacceptable' by UCI president
Paul Scholes column: Arsenal's Mesut Ozil is too good for Arsene Wenger to waste on the left wing
- 2 Scottish independence live: Scotland gives a clear 'No' in historic referendum - as it happened
- 3 iOS 8 is full of shiny new features - but it's terrible news for app developers
- 4 Friends 20th anniversary: Six things we wouldn't have without influential comedy series
- 5 Scottish independence: Tory revolt against 'devo max' grows as Rail Minister Claire Perry joins
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Scottish independence: The Queen breaks silence on referendum debate – as think tank warns of £14bn black hole if Scotland votes Yes
Portuguese academic says British are 'filthy, violent and drunk'
£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...
£55 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: We are looking to recruit two ...
£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Primary teachers requ...
£50 - £60 per day: Randstad Education Preston: A school in Preston require a S...