"There's Activity Down On the Bench...."

There are certain incidents in a match where the co-commentator feels compelled to offer an opinion. One such moment is a substitution. At this point, we are treated to a full rationale of why this replacement is being made. Thankfully, as with many things, the co-commentator can call upon a comfortably wide range of stock reasons:

This type of substitution also appears under the guise of the straight swap or the ready-made replacement. Normally used to indicate that the player coming on is uncannily similar in style and position to the one he is replacing, usually because of an injury. A good example of the co-commentator's traditional compulsion to jump in and offer an incisive observation, a like-for-like substitution absolutely never goes unmentioned. Furthermore, the player coming on (although this is usually reserved for unspectacular positions in defence or midfield) will be said to "slot straight in" the same position. Although not necessary, if the players concerned look alike, then the cliche is sealed perfectly.

Example: Claude Makelele (Lassana Diarra, 45)

Fresh Legs
Most apparent when cup-ties go to extra time, the concept of fresh legs can be applied to pretty much any substitute, however pacy they may be. One distinction, perhaps, is that fresh legs are more commonly introduced in the midfield engine room.

A solid, reliable choice for a late substitution.

Example: Tomas Rosicky (Alexandr Hleb, 101)

To Offer A Different Option
Pre-match, a manager may be fortunate enough to be said to have "got options on the bench". In extreme cases, where the options are of very high quality, it may be necessary to provide a rundown of how many of them are "full internationals".

The offer of a different option (or simply "something different") essentially boils down to two things - pace (which is invariably "injected") and height (although the latter's rather rudimentary appearance may be disguised as "aerial ability"). A workhorse wide midfielder may be replaced by a youngster with "bags of pace", while a diminutive forward may be swapped for a beanpole of a target man. Either way, a different option has been offered.

Pacy substitutes may find their career hampered by the unhelpful label of "impact player", which means that they often can't be trusted from the start, but will definitely be called upon to come on and change the game at some point.

Example: Teemu Tainio (Aaron Lennon, 63) - pace
Example: Craig Bellamy (Peter Crouch, 67) - aerial ability

Shore Up the Defence/Midfield
This substitute's general responsibility is to provide extra defensive cover for his team, in order to either sit on a lead, or for the purposes of damage limitation. Often the task for utility players who may find themselves warming the bench on a regular basis.

Example: Ryan Giggs (John O'Shea, 81)

The Time Waster
With their team a goal to the good, managers may wish to use their final substitution in the dying minutes. Wise to the ploy, the player about to be substituted will have conveniently moved himself to the opposite side of the pitch, and will begin to trudge slowly towards the dugout. That is until the crowd's anger rises to the point where he breaks out into a light jog. Even allowing for the unwritten rule that 30 seconds will be added to the period of injury time, this method of timewasting is as effective for the side in the lead as it is frustrating for their opponents. The player entering the fray suffers the very minor indignity of being brought on for reasons completely separate from his footballing abilities.

Example: Andriy Shevchenko (Shaun Wright-Phillips, 90+2)

The Raft of Substitutions
Since the maximum allowable number of substitutes in a competitive game is not sufficent to qualify as a raft, even when done simultaneously, this is the sole reserve of the international friendly. A raft of substitutions is now generally recognised as the symbolic (if not actual) final whistle, and the sensible time to pack up your England flag and tuneless airhorn and vacate Old Trafford.

Example: Steven Gerrard (Joey Barton, 78), Wayne Rooney (Jermain Defoe, 78), Ashley Cole (Phil Neville, 78), Frank Lampard (Jermaine Jenas, 78).

Substitute is Substituted
An unusual occurrence that arises when either circumstances demand it (a keeper is sent off, and one of the used substitutes is seen as the sacrificial lamb) or when the player is so performing so badly that he is hauled off in unceremonious fashion by his manager. A collector's item for the football anorak, who will scan the end of match report to see the glorious indignity that the substituted substitute has received - the double brackets.

Example: Matthew Le Tissier (Ali Dia, 32 (Ken Monkou, 85))

The Standing Ovation
Similar to the Time Waster, in that is "too late to make an impact" for the player coming on, and he isn't expected to anway. For his role is to high-five the player leaving the field to a standing ovation. Standing ovations are given to forwards that have either had an exceptional game (a brace, or a couple of assists, etc.) or expensive signings that have not had a good game in the slightest but whose confidence the fans kindly don't want to beat to a pulp. The former is obliged to leave the pitch performing a difficult above-head-clap/360-degree twist combination.
Bringing a player off to a standing ovation also serves the secondary purpose of saving hat-tricks from being taken for granted. The number of hat-tricks that players have been "denied" thanks to a standing ovation is not recorded, but may run into the hundreds of thousands.

Example: Peter Crouch (Dirk Kuyt, 89)

The Final Throw of the Dice
The third substitution. A goal is required, and the last remaining player on the bench that is anything approaching a forward is brought on, and is heralded as the "final throw of the dice". This players instructions are usually reported post-match as having been "get out there and maybe nick a goal". They often do.

Example: Patrice Evra (Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, 84)


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