Connor Southwell: Is Daniel Farke making substitutions too late?

PUBLISHED: 07:29 04 February 2020 | UPDATED: 07:29 04 February 2020

Is Daniel Farke making his substitutions too late within games? Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Is Daniel Farke making his substitutions too late within games? Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

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There doesn’t appear to be a lot of criticism supporters can throw in the direction of Norwich City head coach Daniel Farke.

68pc of City's substitutions this season have come after the 75th minute. 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd68pc of City's substitutions this season have come after the 75th minute. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

The German has orchestrated a unexpected Championship title-win, implemented an attractive footballing philosophy and embedded young talent within City's first-team.

Where apathy once ruled, Farke has created connection. In place of being underwhelmed, he allowed everyone to dream. It's fair to say that the Canaries chief has plenty of credit in the bank.

That context is why he doesn't find his job under threat. City are still ahead of the curve in terms of their long-term project and they see Farke as the man to navigate them through their next few seasons.

But for all his success there is a re-occuring criticism in his perceived retience to make substitutions.

The art of the substitution in football is indisputable. There's nothing more rewarding for a coach or a supporter than when a substitute impacts the game and alters the dynamic or outcome.

57pc of City's changes come in the last ten minutes of matches. 
Picture: Michael Sedgwick/Focus Images Ltd57pc of City's changes come in the last ten minutes of matches. Picture: Michael Sedgwick/Focus Images Ltd

Ultimately, for a coach, making a tactical change indicates a fault in your original strategy, but the very best in the world are able to correct their errors from the sidelines.

Those on the terraces can often see the shortcomings should they be underperforming, but all will have a different remedy in how to improve the situation.

Pep Guardiola and Marcelo Bielsa are no strangers to altering their approach in the opening period of a fixture.

Being proactive in response is a difficult attribute to possess, particularly when your approach to the game is so ideological.

Impacting games from a tactical perspective through the use of substitutions is challenging given every fixture is radically contrasting.

Josip Drmic didn't come off the bench against Newcastle United despite scoring against Burnley in the FA Cup. 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images LtdJosip Drmic didn't come off the bench against Newcastle United despite scoring against Burnley in the FA Cup. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Saturday's Premier League trip to Newcastle United was a prime example of that. For extensive periods, City were dominant in their passages of play and controlled proceedings effectively.

The law of averages suggests if you continue to construct opportunities, then eventually you should convert one.

That aforementioned ideological outlook may prove to be the reason Farke isn't willing to be as forthright as other coaches with his changes.

Fundamentally, that trust and autonomy he provides to his players stems from a belief they can carry out his demands, with the intensity he wishes.

That said, his reluctance to make changes to his original starting XI is damning when you delve into the statistics for the current Premier League season.

Norwich City head coach Daniel Farke during the Premier League match at St. James's Park. 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images LtdNorwich City head coach Daniel Farke during the Premier League match at St. James's Park. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Throughout the entirety of this campaign, Farke has made 69 substitutions. 39 of those have happened after the 79th minute, or 57pc of City's entire changes.

Statistically, those numbers don't improve if you extend to the point in games after the 74th minute, with 68pc of total substitutions arriving after that point this season.

There is no direct science to the perfect period within a game to adjust and revise your in-game tactics because each match is impacted by variables and mitigating circumstances, but players often speak about requiring at least 20 minutes to adjust to the pace of a game.

Unlike other sports, football doesn't have - beyond VAR - lengthy stoppages where coaches can search for a tactics' board to get their views across.

In 2009, the Wall Street Journal comissioned a study into whether there was a recipe to making substiutions.

Bret Myers, a professor of management and operations at the Villanova School of Business, constructed the 'Decision Rule' as a guideline to follow for making effective substitutions.

When followed, this approach has increased the chance of scoring by 36pc. It states the perfect time to use your first tactical substitution is prior to the 58th minute of a fixture.

From there, the second and third substitution should follow from between the 73rd and 79th minute of a match.

On Saturday at St James' Park, Farke made two of his substitutions in the 86th and 89th minute respectively, something that doesn't allow players to settle into a fixture nor assert themselves on it.

It may also be a factor in Teemu Pukki's struggles for goals from open play.

Beyond being injured for the Manchester United game, the Finn has played all bar 31 minutes for the Canaries this term.

Admittedly, City have lacked striking options. but introducing other operators could have helped ease Pukki's workload. So perhaps Farke needs to allow players to gain the feel of games with increased minutes when he introduces them from the bench.

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