Super Submarines are back and Jack Grealish can set the standard as the leader of the game | football

IOf course, it is necessary to draw the positives. In the modern era, this is all you can do after defeat, look for lessons that will be activated to move forward. Although it almost seems distasteful to point to something that went right for England after a dismal Nations League campaign that culminated in the Worst home defeat since 1928There was, in fatigue and frustration, a vague sliver of silver lining. It’s not just that Jack Grealish brought England back again The match away to GermanyHis performance in Munich hinted at a new way of visualizing the game.

Grealish is one of those players who, for the next 18 months or so, has been finding a buzz. There is a constituency inside England Support and critics who demand its inclusion. He is a smart, bright player and looks somewhat natural; If he wasn’t a very talented soccer player, he’d watch the matches and catch Jägerbombs in the beer garden. He has an unaffected kindness that makes it almost impossible not to feel warm to him. But can you trust him to track down his leg, block passing lanes, and not lose the ball with one terrifying trick too much?

It’s an issue that Gareth Southgate and Pep Guardiola have had to grapple with. Grealish, in an unusual on-court interview after the last game of the league, spoke about how difficult it was to learn a new style in him. Manchester. Southgate spoke about the importance of allowing him his freedom. But far from returning to football 40 years ago, when complex systems were less prevalent and the team could be built around one genius in the gaming industry, how is that possible?

The answer was there in Munich: to take him off the bench. Context is everything. When the game is in the balance and you’re trying to set a pattern, Grealish is a risk. But later on, when an inertia needs to be broken or you’re chasing a target, even if you’re defending a lead and want an outlet at the counter, those messy qualities become a blessing. Dribbling is never more effective than running against tired defenders, even if in practice it means winning a series of free kicks. The role of the second-half substitute, match-winner, and match-winner seems to have been made for him.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer celebrates a goal for Manchester United.
Ole Gunnar Solskjær resisted the ‘super sub’ tag in his playing days. Photograph: Dan Chung/The Guardian

There is still a lingering feeling that starting eleven is the real work, and that being a surrogate is somehow less so. Players like David Fairclough and Ole Gunnar Solskjær have resisted the “super‑sub” tag, insisting they are more than that. But there is no reason for the player to look inferior. In particular, the Premier League is now aligned with most of the rest of the world to allow five substitutions, it seems likely that bench specialists will become more common; All it takes is a shift in mentality.

I’ve felt in the past that football was getting close to this point. When Romelu Lukaku was on loan at West Bromwich in 2012-13, Steve Clarke would start regularly with either him or Shane Long, and then, when they run with his feet away from central defence, brings the other to exploit spent ends.

Then the benefits are twofold: Not only is the player a newcomer and thus has an advantage against tired opponents, but the starting player knows they can play with full tilt out because their match will likely be an hour or so. – This, in turn, must exhaust his immediate opponent.

While this is useful in midfield, it is perhaps more valuable when the confrontations between attackers and wingspans extend almost the entire length of the wing and require a lot of stamina anyway.

Specialized subs have become almost acceptable at least with goalkeepers who are expert in penalty kicks. Andrew Redmayne did not play a minute in the Australian qualifier, but replaced captain, Matt Ryan, with seconds of extra time remaining in Monday’s World Cup qualifier against Peru. How completely responsible for his antics, dance on line Throwing the Peru goalkeeper’s annotated water bottle away was unclear for Australia’s win, but he joined a growing list of sub-keepers credited with inspiring penalty shootout victories.

Andrew Redmayne poses for a photo with fans.
Australia’s reserve goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne was brought in for the penalty shootout with Peru, and he helped them secure qualification for the World Cup. Photo: Karim Jaafar/AFP/Getty Images

The earliest appears to have been Nikos Christidis, who joined Lakis Stergiodas when AEK Athens beat Queens Park Rangers in the UEFA Cup quarter-finals in 1976-77 and saved Dave Webb’s penalty, ever since when various coaches such as Martin O’Neill and Louis Van Gal used this tactic. But resistance persists, so Thomas Tuchel was widely criticized for bringing Kepa Arrizabalaga in The League Cup Final in Februaryalthough the same plan has worked In the European Super Cup final earlier in the season.

But when penalties are so differentiated, and require as much reflexes and merit in game theory as reading gameplay and positioning, why shouldn’t they be outdone by some players who aren’t necessarily the best open-play guards? When learning habits and talking about opponents is an essential part of the process, it makes perfect sense for one player to focus on revising while the open play goalkeeper continues on the same match. It’s the only custom that makes an idea uncomfortable or condemnable when it goes wrong – as it sometimes does.

On one, two, or even three submarine days, the benefits probably don’t seem worth it compared to bringing in a new player or covering up potential injuries. Now that five people are allowed (plus one extra in overtime), though, it seems reasonable that a couple could be assigned to use specialists, whether they are goalkeepers saving penalty kicks, Grealish-style feint strikers, or any other specific job. .

It is already starting to happen. All that remains is general acceptance and players have to come enjoy the role of being super players. After all, you are playing against weak opponents on a specific mission to achieve glory. What do you not enjoy about it?