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'That’s not the point'; Rafa Benitez contrasts Jurgen Klopp on 5 subs call

Rafa Benitez does not believe clubs need five subs going forward. That’s in contrast to Jurgen Klopp’s calls for the rule.

Rafa Benitez is not a fan of five subs in a game. The former Liverpool boss laid out why in a blog post, believing teams use them incorrectly.

Benitez has experience with the rule, after all, while managing in the Chinese Super League.

“In the Chinese Super League, we’ve seen a season with five substitutions, and in every game, this has been used to waste time,” he wrote. “That’s not the point of a substitution.

“We have to manage our squad, our bench, to solve our problems on the pitch as well as managing the situation off the pitch.

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“To reduce the number of injuries and the tiredness, we have to reduce the number of international games, the amount of travelling done; that could be one solution.”

Benitez goes on to explain how his fitness staff dealt with the increased demands on players.


Klopp, of course, sees things differently. He’s been very vocal in his belief that things need to change and that extra subs are the way to do that.

There are too many injuries and too much pressure on players, he believes. Liverpool’s injury list certainly backs that up.

What RTK has to say

Benitez offers an interesting point here. And let’s be honest – if teams can timewaste with five subs, they’ll timewaste with five subs. No question there.

The true argument, then, is whether that’s a price worth protecting the players. You’d have to say it is, really.

While Benitez has experienced the rule, the Chinese league doesn’t have the same number of games, nor the international commitments of the Premier League.

It’s far more difficult to manage fitness and injuries in England right now. The season is compacted by a month and the next month and a half, in particular, will be intense for every team.

The five subs rule isn’t perfect, though. It undeniably hands an advantage to the richer teams as they have deeper squads.

Manchester City and, to a lesser degree, Liverpool can make five substitutes in a game and roughly maintain their top level with the quality they have on the bench.

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The teams at the lower end of the league can’t do that. Even teams currently in the title race – like Leicester City – can’t do that.

But five subs is the easiest rule change at a time when football’s rule-makers and schedulers look perfectly prepared to do nothing. And for that reason, we’ll back Klopp. This will likely be the only way to protect players.

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