Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Final Day Politics – Selection headaches for Ferguson and co

Final Day Politics – Selection headaches for Ferguson and co.
The final day of the season is almost upon us and for many players and managers it will merely be a prelude to a more significant event, such as a cup final or a summer holiday. However for those involved at Newcastle United, Hull City and Sunderland it could represent the most important moment of their careers.

Inevitably, this contrast in attitudes causes significant problems. Almost every season a relegated side complains about a supposed lack of effort from a team they had hoped would do them a favour. Yet there are two sides to every story and how can Manchester United possibly justify fielding a full strength side against Hull, with a Champions League final to play just 3 days later?

The fact of the matter is that for United and Chelsea (who play Sunderland a few days before the FA Cup final) this is a no-win situation. If they play their first choice 11 they risk injuries to key players but if they play a weakened side and lose they will not only be heavily criticised but could even face legal action according to some reports.

Paragraph E20 of the Premier League rules states: “in every league match each participating club should field a full strength team”. However this rule has never been used as the basis for a legal battle before and spokespeople for Newcastle and Middlesbrough have since denied the claims.

Whilst it is clear that certain final day fixtures may be more favourable than others, one game does not relegate a team. With current points totals of 34, 35 and 36, the team that is relegated on Sunday will undoubtedly be the team that deserves to go. To acknowledge that point would ensure that, if nothing else, whoever goes down can leave the Premier League with their dignity intact.


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