World Cup 26-man squads change for change and won’t help player welfare – Andy Dunn

There was a good reason to increase the size of the teams for the recent European Championships, but

World Cup teams will be able to name larger squads and up to 55 players in the preliminary groups

Why don’t they all stand on the sidelines, drink Gatorade and help the wingers up when they fall out of play?

Give the coach a laminated notepad and one of those headsets with a headset and microphone?

Heck, have the ref throw in a yellow handkerchief — sorry, flag — rather than whistle.

After all, Harry Kane loves his NFL.

At this year’s World Cup, managers will have a choice of 15 substitutes.

It’s 52 players warming up for a match. Presumably, there are no cramped dressing rooms in Qatar.

If there was a shared bath it should be the size of Blackpool Lido.

It is change for change’s sake.

FIFA and everyone who wants a thousand subs say they do it for the welfare of the players.

Maybe they actually believe it, but it will turn out to be complete nonsense.

Well-being of players?

Here is a prediction.

Every Qatar 2022 manager will face their best available team in every match, unless that match is some kind of dead rubber.

If Gareth Southgate’s starting XI win their opener against Iran, the same starting XI – assuming they’re all fit – will step onto the pitch for the next game against the United States.

And so on, unless qualification is assured before the last group match.

What do you think of the increase in team size? Have your say in the comments section

Gareth Southgate will be allowed to name a 26-man squad for the World Cup



Still, FIFA has confirmed what we’ve known for some time and managers will be allowed to name 26-man squads.

It might not be that bad, but it erodes the fundamental nature of the game.

With 15 substitutes allowed on the bench and five cleared to continue, the prospect of coaches selecting penalty specialists – with no hope of starting a game – into their traveling squad is obvious. James Ward-Prowse, pack your bags, son.

There were, of course, extenuating circumstances for UEFA to sanction 26-man squads for Euro 2020, but there was no way FIFA would go back to the 23-man limit.

And, for good measure, the number on a preliminary team roster has increased from 35 to 55.

England will have more players to choose from when making substitutions


Getty Images)

Yes, at the end of October Southgate can name 55 players in their preliminary squad. As, on any match day, there are usually only around 80 qualified starters for England in the Premier League, you have to imagine your chances of making it into this group.

The only real purpose of this preliminary team is that if a player later has to retire from the 26-man squad, they can only be replaced by someone on this 55-name list.

No more FIFA bureaucratic nonsense, in other words.

More seriously, 26-man teams pose a morale problem for the coach.

Let’s face it, most players will know their place in the pecking order. In a team of 26 players, there will be several who know their chances of getting a kick are slim to none.

This will make any sort of stint in Qatar a long one.

But hey ho, no worries, you can get that last-second basket – sorry, penalty kick – and the glory, amid the stuffing, could still be yours.

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