You can request to make a substitution at any point during a match by using the Make Substitution button. You have the option to give the player coming on an individual team talk if you wish, and the substitution will take place during the next break in play.
You should generally try to substitute off your most tired players if possible; that is, those who have the lowest condition. This will freshen up your team slightly and so help to keep up the performance level, while it will also reduce the likelihood of injuries occurring during the match. Furthermore, such an approach has additional fitness benefits during a season.
Advice on substituting tired players and details of the resultant benefits to fitness are provided in the Player Fitness guide.
In addition, it is advisable to try to replace those players who you believe are significantly underperforming relative to the rest of your team. As for opposition players, the best way to assess the performances of your own players is through watching the match, discussed in more detail above. However, you may prefer to simply check player ratings and to consider substituting those players who have a low rating compared to the average rating of your other players, while you can also check the player statistics that contribute to each rating.
As for opposition players, you can keep track of the condition and ratings of your own players while watching the match using your side’s Team Ratings widget, while both player ratings and player statistics can be viewed from the different sections of the Stats tab.
When assessing a player’s performance you should bear in mind the nature of his role within your tactic. For example:
- A player in a less glorified position and role, such as a central defender or defensive midfielder in a dominant team, may have less involvement in a match and a less impressive rating despite not playing badly.
- A striker, particularly in the poacher role, who relies to a large extent on service from teammates may have a quiet performance if your other players have not created chances for him effectively, despite him making good runs and finding space.
- Similarly, a midfield creator, whose job is to create chances for your attackers, may struggle to do this if your attackers are not finding space effectively, perhaps due to a lack of movement or efficient defending by the opposition defence.
- A creator or runner in midfield or attack may be being marked out of the game by an opposition player, but his off the ball runs or roaming into space may still be helping to create space for teammates to exploit.
It is also important that you consider whether a player’s possible underperformance is actually a tactical issue that needs to be addressed. For example, the roles and duties of your players may lack balance, as discussed above, which may lead to one or more players not receiving enough support from teammates.
It is generally advisable to wait until the second half to bring off underperforming players, since you may be able to inspire them with your half-time team talk. If they are still playing poorly after, say, 55 to 60 minutes, react badly to your half-time team talk or have a rating below 6.0 at half time then it is advisable to make the substitution if you have an appropriate replacement.
In addition to bringing off tired or underperforming players, substitutions can be effectively used in the following circumstances:
- When changing your tactical style or formation, to bring on a player more appropriate for your new tactic. For example, an attacker who has good mobility (Acceleration, Agility and Pace) when switching to the Counter Attacking style (or simply when adopting an aspect of this style, for example when changing to a more defensive mentality).
- When identifying a weakness in the opposition team, such as an underperforming or tired player, or a vulnerable area created following a change in its formation, a substitution or a knock picked up by a player, by bringing on a player in the appropriate position who has abilities that could exploit the weakness effectively. For example, a fresh substitute with good mobility (Acceleration, Agility and Pace), and perhaps either good attacking movement (Anticipation and Off The Ball) or good dribbling ability (Dribbling, Technique and Flair), can be particularly effective if he is up against a tired opposition player or a player with poor mobility and marking ability (Marking, Anticipation, Concentration and Positioning).
- When possession is poorer than expected, by bringing on a midfielder who has good creativity (Anticipation, Decisions, Teamwork and Vision) and passing ability (Passing and Technique) to help to dictate play. You should bear in mind how much possession you would expect your team to have based on the relative quality of the two teams and the importance of possession to your tactical style. For instance, the Counter Attacking style and direct styles such as Playing To A Target Man rely less on possession.
- When struggling to create chances, by bringing on a midfielder or attacker who has good creativity (Anticipation, Decisions, Flair, Teamwork and Vision) and passing ability (Passing and Technique) to find players making runs, or good mobility (Acceleration, Agility and Pace) and dribbling ability (Dribbling, Technique and Flair) to try to destabilise the opposition defence. Alternatively, it may be that you need an attacker with good mobility and attacking movement (Anticipation and Off The Ball) to make effective runs off the ball that can be used by your creative passers.
- When the opposition team is reduced to ten men, by bringing on an attacking player to try to exploit your numerical advantage.
- When you have identified a particular opposition player who is causing your team problems or when the opposition team has brought on a threatening player, by bringing on a player who has the appropriate abilities to play against him. For example, a defender who has good mobility (Acceleration, Agility and Pace) and marking ability (Marking, Anticipation, Concentration and Positioning) against an attacker who has good mobility and attacking movement (Anticipation and Off The Ball).
- When your team is reduced to ten men, by bringing on a defensive player to ensure that your formation remains defensively solid.
You may need to switch players around or even change your formation slightly when making a substitution in some cases. For example, you may not have a like-for-like replacement on the bench for the player who you wish to bring off but you may be able to use a player already on the pitch in another position and bring a substitute on to replace that player instead.