Revealed: The real reason managers don’t make subs at half-time

Bosses don’t fancy seeing players like Hamish McAlpine lose the plot

Hamish McAlpine stormed off to the showers following criticism from Jim McLean
Hamish McAlpine stormed off to the showers following criticism from Jim McLean

The second half is five minutes old and the manager decides to make a substitution.

“Why did he not do that at half-time?” you ask.

The most likely reason is that he wanted to avoid the confrontation that frequently happens when players are subbed at the interval.

All footballers hate being subbed but, when it is done with supporters watching, they are forced to put a face on it and behave in something resembling an adult manner.

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However, if it takes place away from the fans, then stand back.

To avoid the “totally losing the plot” scene many managers never sub at the break.

In the 1980s at Parkhead when Jim McLean’s Dundee United were the visitors, it went seriously wrong.

Jim was unhappy with Hamish McAlpine conceding a penalty. He started to berate the goalkeeper and, legend has it, accused him of being a Celtic supporter.

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This was too much for a strong character like Hamish. Off came the kit and into the shower he went.

The problem was exacerbated by the fact that, back then, no goalie subs were allowed.

Eventually Wee Jim apologised through gritted teeth and Hamish washed out the conditioner and reappeared for the late-starting second half.

When I was a manager I frequently subbed at half-time, believing the chance to explain the change in tactics outweighed the mayhem I might have to handle.

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I became adept at dodging flying soap.

On a more serious note, half-time is a vital time for the manager. He has 15 minutes to affect the course of the game.

The hot and bothered players have to be watered and then settled down so that they are in listening mode.

The manager has to clearly explain the changes he wants to make.

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Structure is vital and that is why you see many experienced managers making notes during the game so that they have something to refer to.

Coaching is best done out on the football field but some of the most effective coaching is done in the heat of battle by managers at half-time.

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Joy Yates

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Editorial Director

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