Would you substitute a player on a hat-trick?

THIS WEEK’S DEBATE: Your team is leading late in a tight game and one of your strikers has scored twice. He appears tired and your subs are keen to come on, but should you deny him his chance of a hat-trick by making a change?


Geoff Moss

“If a player is tired and replacements are available, he should be withdrawn. Tired players contribute less and are more likely to suffer or inflict injuries”

“Shouldn’t the principle be to give every player a chance to compete. That way everyone enjoys the experience of the game, rather than just concentrating on one player’s personal goal? Remember, it’s a team game and the ambitions should be team-based and not player-based.

If a player is tired and there are replacements available, he should be withdrawn anyway, whether he’s on a hat-trick or not. Tired players contribute far less to the team and are more likely to suffer or inflict injuries, so they should be replaced straight away.

So often in the professional game you see a striker being replaced before he has the chance to grab a hat-trick. Why do you think that is? Well, it’s good psychology on the part of the coach. It keeps the player fresh and eager to achieve his ‘hat-trick goal’ the next time he plays. You wouldn’t want a player to bag a hat-trick and switch off for the following matches because he’s become complacent.

If, as described, this is a really tight game, tactically wouldn’t it be smart to withdraw a tired striker anyway and replace him with a fresh defender or a tackling midfielder?

Aside from the good sense of replacing a tired player, I find making a substitution offers a nice opportunity for a player to receive his own round of applause as he leaves the pitch – that’s not a privilege afforded to other players at the final whistle. If he’s already scored two goals already, he deserves the praise!”


Anthony Steerman
Newport, Isle of Wight

“When I’ve witnessed a player being taken off with two goals to his name, it’s always left a sour taste. For goodness sake, let him have his moment!”

“I understand the idea of keeping a player striving for a special target or milestone, but at some point you have to let him fulfil his ambition. When I’ve witnessed a player being taken off like this with two goals to his name, it’s always left a bit of a sour taste. It’s a bit like telling a child to peer through a sweet shop window without letting him go inside. For goodness sake, let him have his moment!

A player on a hat-trick will always give that extra 10 per cent at the split second when he is required to. Okay, he may not be too keen to tackle back, but wait until a ball from out wide gets played across the edge of the six-yard box, and I suspect he’ll be as quick as any other striker.

If tiredness always demands a player is substituted, then in my experience half the team would be ready to be withdrawn. In fact, if my players aren’t feeling tired late in the game I’m likely to think they haven’t been putting the effort in that they should have been! I don’t feel tiredness should be regarded as such a bad thing – more a reflection of a game in which players have fought hard.

I also don’t buy into the complacency argument. Simply, when a player of mine has grabbed a hat-trick, he knows he cannot rest on his laurels because he’ll quickly be reminded he’s only halfway through the challenge… of scoring hat-tricks in consecutive matches!”

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