February 27, 2011 | In: Articles

Dalglish doubts selection rules

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish has questioned the Premier League’s methods of assessing supposedly weakened teams.

A two-page letter was sent to all of England’s 20 top-flight clubs last week to explain the rules in the wake of the £25,000 fine handed to Blackpool in January.

Ian Holloway’s club were punished for selecting a so-called inferior line-up against Aston Villa in November, having made 10 changes to the side which faced Everton the previous week, despite selecting from a confirmed 25-man squad.

The Premier League has now taken steps to clarify its judgement based upon average appearances, but Dalglish, who takes his side to West Ham on Sunday lunchtime, is not convinced.

Liverpool’s manager said in his column in the Daily Mail: “The implication is that if a line-up has a low number of average appearances in one game and a much higher average in the next game, the League will determine the first line-up was weakened and the ‘strong’ players were being saved for the subsequent fixture.

“However, the wording of the letter poses as many questions as it seeks to answer. In it, the Premier League say they will inquire into a weakened team if a particular line-up ‘falls outside the set parameter’.

“But it doesn’t say what that parameter is. The letter says the Premier League are using ‘objective measurements’ in their formula. But unless they specify to the clubs what those objective measurements are, how are the clubs meant to know?

“I think there are flaws in the argument, anyway, that certain players in a 25-man squad are considered more first-choice than others.

“What if a top-class player has been injured all season and is making his comeback? Under the Premier League’s analysis, he would be considered a weakened player because he wouldn’t have played many games.

“I appreciate why the League would be keen to maintain the integrity of their competition but I think if they’ve signed off a 25-man squad, integrity would be best served by allowing managers to do their job and pick the best XI for any given game.”

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