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Man Utd Make Ten Changes Against Rangers: Surely A £25k Fine Is In Order?

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Back in February of this year, Wolverhampton Wanderers were handed a suspended £25,000 fine by the Premier League board for fielding a weakened team against Manchester United the previous December.

Manager Mick McCarthy made ten changes to his team with the view of resting his first string players for an upcoming ‘relegation six-pointer’ with fellow stragglers Burnley – a game that Wolves duly won 2-0, thus vindicating McCarthy’s decision entirely.

Wolves then went on to successfully retain their top-flight status, and Burnley…well we all know what happened to Burnley.

At the time, the Premier League released the following statement to explain the rationale behind their moronic stance;

“The Premier League Board has issued Wolverhampton Wanderers FC with a suspended £25,000 fine after deciding that the team fielded in their league fixture against Manchester United on 15 December 2009 was not full strength and therefore in breach of Rule E20.

The board also deemed that the club had failed to fulfil its obligations to the league and other clubs in the utmost good faith and was therefore in breach of Rule B13.”

The league’s Rule E20 stipulates that clubs must field a full-strength side in all top-flight games and B13 is, as stated, in place to ensure that all Premier League sides act in ‘good faith’ toward each other so as not to undermine the integrity of the competition.

The decision to find Wolves in breach of these regulations was, of course, terribly offensive to the squad members concerned who – if we are to follow the Premier League board’s logic (as potentially disastrous as that may sound) – weren’t deemed good enough to play in the top flight.

9465144 Man Utd Make Ten Changes Against Rangers: Surely A £25k Fine Is In Order?

Man Utd vs. Rangers in the Champions League

Last night, in an instance of unbridled coincidence, it was Manchester United themselves that decided to field a team for their opening Champions League fixture against Rangers last night which consisted of ten changes made from the side which drew with Everton at the weekend – the thinking obviously being that even their second string would be strong enough to see off such limited opponents, thus giving their first choice players a week’s rest ahead of their Premier League clash with bitter rivals Liverpool on Sunday.

Therefore United manager Sir Alex Ferguson used exactly the same logic that Mick McCarthy employed against him last season (albeit to different ends) and has, as yet, not faced a single word of resistance. On the other hand, McCarthy was hounded by the press, who took on their all-to-familiar air of faux-condemnation following his decision.

Now, I’d just like to make one thing clear. I do not disagree with Ferguson’s (or McCarthy’s, for that matter) actions.

A club’s squad is in place for a reason (to rest, rotate and/or protect players) and it is no concern of the governing bodies as to which particular member of the squad is picked to play in any given game (whether it be just one man brought in for a particular fixture or all eleven), unless the player in question is illegitimate for one reason or another.

However, what I do disagree with is the inherent hypocrisy. I know that the two aforementioned incidents took place on vastly different stages, but the principles are exactly the same – and should therefore be punished as such.

It’s pretty obvious to see where the line is drawn when it comes to the rulings on squad rotation.

Will we ever see the likes of Arsenal and Manchester United – who have regularly rested large numbers of first team players in various competitions in the past – sanctioned for fielding weakened or reserve teams (regardless of the individual quality of the auxiliary players)? I somehow doubt it.

Yet again, it’s a clear case of ‘one rule for some clubs, another rule for the others’.

Comments (21)

  1. Argument completely undermined by two things:

    1) The Champions League squad system. Why have a 25 man squad if you’re going to fine clubs for using it?

    2) Who is UEFA to say what players are ‘weaker’ than others.

    For the record United started with 9 internationals and 2 U21 internationals last night

  2. @Ed:

    1) It shouldn’t matter whether or not there is any ‘squad size’ stipulation. Players are presumably in their respective squads on merit – not just to make up the numbers.

    2) Who are the Premier League to say which players are weaker than others? The same principle applies.

    3) “regardless of the individual quality of the auxiliary players” – it’s not surprising that Wolves don’t have as many international players as Man Utd, but it shouldn’t be an issue as the ruling shouldn’t be relative to the quality of the replacement players.

  3. @Ed

    To add to Chris’s point, I think the main thing to look at here is that what happened with Wolves was wrong, and your points are completely correct, a club should be allowed to field whatever team they want as long as they’re registered.

  4. I think it’s safe to assume that had United fielded a full strength side they would have won?

    If then Rangers, unlikely rhough it may seem, qualify to the next phase by 1 point then United have undermined the integrity of the competition.

  5. what a waste of an article, utter nonsense!!! – 2 different competitions (CL and EPL) so cannot compare the 2 situations at all. Wolves rested players so that other players would be fit for a game in the same competition (EPL) – Man Utd rested players, or indeed dropped players following their shocker against Everton for a CL game ahead of an EPL game. In addition, are you saying the inclusion of Rooney and Ferdinand was supposed to weaken the team?

  6. Chris, you are absolutely correct, but I think you are knocking your head against an FA-logo-emblazoned brick wall…

    If you are Man U, Chelsea, ‘Pool or Arsenal you are exempt from scrutiny. This is how its always been and how it always will be.

    I dont care two f%&@s about the FA and their blatant eletism – though I wouldnt mind if they all got Super Aids and died.

  7. United made 10 changes, I agree. But your argument is based on teh team against Everton being their strongest which it is not. Players like Rooney did not play against Everton yet he is United’s best player. The actual number of players who do not lay regularly was closer to 4.

  8. 7 of 11 of United Players played in the Charity Sheild and a couple of others would have played also if they weren’t involved in the World Cup. Stupid article really.

  9. What a ridiculous assertion. UEFA allow a 25 man squad. It’s up to clubs to manage their squad.

    Given United had a shocker against Everton, perhaps Ferguson thought the squad needed a shake up.

    The team he sent out should still have won.

  10. Spot on, it’s a joke. We have to get used to this, especially as everyone seems to be against Wolves right now but that suits us and we will do better off it.

    Good article.

  11. Not really, Chris. While the action was the same, we’re talking about two different competitions here.

    If Ferguson had made the changes for a Premier League fixture, then a direct comparison could be drawn and therefore you (and more importantly, Wolves) would have a argument upon which to mount a case.

    As it is, you’ve got nothing (and this is coming from a lifelong Wolves fan, btw).

  12. Ah, the utter hypocrisy of the media and Premier League is once more sorely exposed. Actually my favourite article on the Wolves “weakened side” thing (6 of whom ended the season as first team regulars by the way) was actually on a Man Utd site, detailing specific games where Man Utd, Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea had done exactly the same thing with minimal fuss.

    Re Ed – United Rant’s comment, the “weakened” Wolves side had 6 internationals, but the idiots at the Premier League didnt seem to think that mattered!

  13. In the Champions League you get to name a 25 man squad with 5 additional younger players, so man utd did not actually break any regulations or rules as they played players who had been registered to the champions league and therefore cannot be fined. What happened to wolves happened as it was in the premiership where there are rules preventing teams from fielding a weakened team. I understand the articles point but please do further research next time as you cannot compare these 2 different competitions as they have differnent rules.

  14. UEFA or FA. Carling Cup or Premier League. It shouldn’t matter, the rules SHOULD apply equally to all teams. Not just the so called ‘smaller’ clubs who the big-wigs at the top of football aren’t afraid to take on. The FA have set a standard and it should be stuck to at all times. Not when it suits them best.

  15. Thanks for pointing out that you’re not a fan of governing bodies interfering in manager’s decisions, but you’ve also missed out on a key difference between the Wolves incident and United team that Fergie fielded last night – Wolves were obviously of the opinion that they would lose at Old Trafford regardless of which team they fielded, whereas United were using resources sparingly to win a game. One is not within the spirits of the rules, the other is a footballing miscalculation.

  16. I totally agree with Zaid – Wolves did make a ‘footballing miscalculation’ with the state of Utd. back four and the run that they were on at the time, we could have gone there and won! I guess that’s not the angle he’s coming from though.

    The big name, big money teams will always twist the rules for their benefit and get away with it. Those with less resources will always get treated less favourably, just like in everyday life – money wins you friends in high places.

  17. re your comment about the changes to the scum bag team with the fa up there arse, i bet most of them players are not even in the 25 man squad,
    you should be fined just like any other team, that fields a weak tean in any comp
    the only reason united dont get fined now is THEY HAVE NO MONEY LMAO.

  18. There are two very different situations here:

    1. Resting loads of players because you think the game is really easy.
    2. Resting loads of players because you think the game is too hard.

    They are different because one of them involves not really trying to get a result. Wolves effectively decided – for tactical reasons – to forfeit the game.

    That’s why they were fined – and in my opinion rightly. The match was a farce. Their supporters should have gotten their money back.

  19. Madwolf –

    What on earth does that even mean? All of the players United fielded are in their Champions League squad. Obviously.

    And they are all in United’s Premiership squad for the season

    Who are these youth team players or reserves that United apparently fielded? Hernandez – who had a fantastic world cup? Park – who starts the biggest games? Gibson – a man who started and scored against Bayern Munich last year. Valencia, Rooney and Fletcher are all first team players. So are Ferdinand and Wes Brown. So are you complaining about Fabio and Smalling? Because they had perfectly good games.

  20. It appears to upset Utd. fans when ‘lesser’ teams expect to play by the same rules as them?
    Who has the right to decide that the players Wolves or any other team field are weaker than others within their squads? Wolves did not field a team of youth players, see Wolvesdave’s post. The players that Wolves decided to take the field with are full squad members, just like Utd’s were against Rangers. The issue is, why should Wolves receive a ticking off whilst ‘larger clubs’ are allowed more slack? I know that on this occasion it was in a different competition but, how about a couple of seasons back, Fulham and West Ham United secured surprise victories after Rafael Benítez and Sir Alex Ferguson respectively rested key players. These wins helped them to stay up at the Sheffield Utd’s expense?

  21. i think any player in a team deserves to be there and deserves playing time and the coach has a right to decide which player to use and for which game which should not be the business of EPL or UEFA, calling some players weaker team is very abusive and will kill the moral of those players. let the coaches do their job.