Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has called on Premier League chiefs to rethink allowing five substitutions, claiming that the current rules show a lack of respect to players.
Clubs were permitted to use five subs when football resumed post-lockdown in June to protect player welfare after a three-month hiatus forced by the coronavirus pandemic.
However, a vote in August saw the league revert back to the system where each team is only allowed three changes per game, unlike in other top leagues across Europe, plus the Europa League and Champions League.
The likes of Jurgen Klopp, Frank Lampard and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer have questioned why other teams voted against the decision, with the number of injuries on the rise.
Speaking on Friday, Guardiola said there has been “47 per cent more muscular injuries” this year compared to the same stage of the campaign in 2019-20.
And the Catalan has added his voice to a growing campaign for the Premier League to rethink the decision to only allow three substitutions per game.
“It is nothing to do with certain teams having an advantage,” he said. “It is about why we are here – the players. Forget about the advantage; this is to protect all the players.
“When they play every three days, they start to suffer. Why, in all the leagues is it happening, and here we cannot protect the players?
“The statistics speak for themselves. The players are not recovering from the previous game, even the previous season. It makes no sense.
“Who voted for the decisions? Who are they? They have to protect the players. They have to decide. The law is acceptable for FIFA, UEFA.”
City are in action for the fifth time in a fortnight on Saturday when they take on Sheffield United, who they have beaten in three successive league games.
The quick turnaround in games has already taken its toll, with the likes of Gabriel Jesus, Benjamin Mendy, Sergio Aguero and Nathan Ake spending time on the sidelines.
Guardiola believes that is largely down to a lack of pre-season, with City having just five weeks between their last game of last season and their first game this campaign.
“We had just two weeks preparation,” he said. “We didn’t have four, five weeks. This is the reason why. We are trying, but it’s not about the result. It’s about protecting the players.
“It’s about being in the better conditions to play. Today, in all the sports around the world, they have good regeneration.
“When this doesn’t happen, we are at risk. The points we drop, I’m not judging, I never complain. It’s a lack of respect. I don’t want to see the players injured. We need the players.”