Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Making it Easy for United isn't Really Necessary?!

As anyone who has read a newspaper this morning will know, last night witnessed Mick McCarthy's Wolves team make ten first team changes to face Manchester United at Old Trafford. This strikes me as pretty crazy - we are talking about Manchester United aren't we? Last season's Premier League champions and runners up in the Champions League?

From last night's starting eleven, only goalkeeper Marcus Hanhnemann retained his place from the side who played Tottenham at the weekend, whilst players such as George Friend were given Premier League debuts. McCarthy's reason was that he wanted to "protected his players from injury" after their hard fought 1-0 win over Spurs. Wolves haven't picked up many points this season, but the win on Saturday marked their second win on the bounce, their best form of the season so far. So surely the best team morale to take to Old Trafford?

I can understand rotating his squad and keeping players fresh for the big matches that they have coming up, notably against Burnley on Sunday. But when the travelling Wolves fans pay £42 for a ticket and travel up to Manchester on a bitterly cold night, surely they deserve better? Let's not forget that last night represented a good chance for Wolves to have a decent go at the champions considering their current injury crisis and form? It's almost as if McCarthy had admitted defeat before kick off, instead United strolled home to a 3-0 victory.

I realise that some players would be tired, but all in all they are professional footballers, highly tuned athletic machines, three matches in a week shouldn't be too much of an issue. The Premier League is never going to be easy, but perhaps if the Wolves first eleven can't cope with the playing schedule, then there's something wrong with their training regime?

It's important that the Premier League doesn't become like the FA Cup or League Cup where several managers rotate their squads for the sake of keeping their players fresh for league matches. As I found out from the Reuters Soccer Blog, there is actually a rule against fielding weakened teams. "Premier League rule E20 states that clubs are required to field full-strength sides in every match", clearly this didn't happen last night.

The quality of league deserves better than that. It's going to be interesting to see what Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger and Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti think of McCarthy's early Christmas present to Manchester United.

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