Five of the most bizarre managerial substitutions

fernando torres substitution TSR takes a look at a selection of five substitutions  that have left the masses scratching their heads

One of the major Premier League talking points of the weekend was the reaction to Liverpool manager Rafael Benítez’s shock decision to withdraw Fernando Torres after 70 minutes against Birmingham City.

With the game finely poised at 1-1, Steven Gerrard’s bemused expression emphasised the  lunacy of the  tactical move.

Continuing with the same theme, The Sport Review takes a look at a selection of five equally as strange  substitutions that left the masses scratching their heads.

1. Reading 3 – 1 Liverpool, 2007

On December 8, 2007 Liverpool travelled to the Madjeski Stadium undefeated in the League and confident of victory. Stephen Hunt put Reading into the lead from the penalty spot, but his strike was soon cancelled out by a smart goal by Steven Gerrard. The second half saw Kevin Doyle put the Royals ahead once more.

Cue Rafael Benítez to withdraw hitman Fernando Torres. Moments later Reading midfielder James Harper added a third for the home side. The Liverpool manager then opted to take off captain Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher with one eye on an imminent European tie instead of attempting to recover a point.

2. West Germany 3 – 2 England, 1970

The Germans were seeking to enact revenge for their defeat in the infamous 1966 final, however this quarter-final clash started in ominous fashion for Franz Beckenbauer and company as England took a comfortable two-goal lead.

Sir Alf Ramsey decided to withdraw Bobby Charlton and Martin Peters in order to rest his key players for the semi-final in the blistering Mexican heat. It proved a fateful move as a resurgent German side mounted a comeback to win 3-2, booking a place in the next round.

3. Sweden 2 – 1 England, 1992

Much was made of the souring relationship between England manager, Graham Taylor and his captain Gary Lineker and the issue came to a head at the European Championships during the summer of 1992. After two disappointing draws against Denmark and France, Taylor’s team were in desperate need of victory against Sweden.

However matters worsened for the Three Lions when Taylor, with England trailing the Swedes 2-1, infuriated the disillusioned English fans and sniping press by substituting Lineker. It would be the striker’s final game for England and it deprived him of the chance of equalling Sir Bobby Charlton’s goalscoring record. Headlines the following day read: The Swedes 2 – 1 The Turnips.

4. Manchester United 2 – 1 Bayern Munich, 1999

Bayern Munich had led for most of the 1999 UEFA Champions League final at the Camp Nou thanks to a Mario Basler goal. The Germans were content to soak up United pressure with Alexander Zickler leading the counter attack charge.

But talismanic captain Lothar Matthus was withdrawn by manager Ottmar Hitzfeld with ten minutes to go. He was joined on the sidelines by the dangerous Zickler and goalscorer Basler. Of course, what then unfolded was one of the greatest comebacks in European history with the English champions snatching victory in the face of defeat.

5. Southampton 0 – 2 Leeds United, 1996

Graeme Souness won’t go down as a managerial great and it’s signings such as Ali Dia which will always taint his reputation as a boss. The Scottish manager famously fell for a prank phone call from an impersonator pretending to be George Weah and the former AC Milan ace recommended his cousin, Dia, to the then Southampton boss.

Dia arrived on the Friday morning for training with the first team and the next day he was named on the substitute’s bench. When Saints legend Matt Le Tissier came off injured after 32 minutes, Souness surprisingly opted to replace his talisman with Dia. The hapless player lasted just 20 minutes before being replaced.

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