Football managers are always thinking of new and innovative ways to gain little advantages over their opponents. Small details can yield big results.
However, one of the most frustrating ways that managers try to gain an advantage during a match - certainly in the eyes of football fans - involves late substitutions.
You’ll often see managers of winning teams make late changes in order to wind down the clock. An understandable tactic? Yes. Cynical? Absolutely.
The substituted player, meanwhile, will inevitable trudge off the pitch as slowly as possible in a further attempt to waste time.
Referees are supposed to add the elapsed time on at the end of the match - but it never seems to work out fairly to the losing team.
Time-wasting in football is currently a major problem. In last month’s Premier League snooze-fest between Cardiff City and Burnley, The Times revealed the ball was in play for just 42 minutes and two seconds of the 90 plus injury time.
“We all want to crack down on major time-wasting and increase playing time but the fundamental question is how we do it," an International FA Board (Ifab) source was quoted as saying after that match.
While time-wasting in football will probably never be eradicated entirely, Ifab are considering making some big changes to substitutions which would certainly help.
It was recently revealed that Ifab advisory panels will discuss whether substitutions during injury time should be limited or stopped altogether to solve the problem of time-wasting by managers in the closing stages of matches.
And the Telegraph have now revealed another potential change that Ifab are considering introducing.
In a bid to avoid players walking from one end of the pitch to the other, as slowly as they can get away with, Ifab are thinking of introducing a rule whereby any player who is subbed off must leave the pitch via the closest touchline rather than walk to the technical area.
This would ensure that a player on the opposite side of the pitch to the dugout would be required to make the short trip off the touchline and then walk behind one of the goals before taking their place on the bench.
As the Telegraph point out: “Some managers waste time by telling players to go as far away as possible from the dug-out before they are taken off, and then to head for the dugout as slowly as possible.”
Ifab’s much-needed change would stop that nonsense and offer the losing team a fairer opportunity to avoid defeat.