A football manager's reputation, his career even, can rest on his substitutional savvy. Recall Alex Ferguson's decision in the 1999 European Cup final to deploy both Ole Gunnar Solskjær and Teddy Sheringham, both of whom scored in the game's dying seconds. Or, conversely, Graham Taylor withdrawing Gary Lineker - in the striker's last game for England - during a must-win tie against Sweden in Euro '92. England lost, and Taylor's turnip moniker was sealed.
The point of this preamble? We fiddled with the Londonist United team over the weekend, making use of our substitutes, and it paid off. Having spent too much time in the treatment room, we dropped Joe Cole and replaced him with Aston Villa's Steve Sidwell. And how did Wandsworth's finest flame-haired midfielder respond to his call-up? By smashing in the first goal during Villa's thrilling 3-2 win at Everton. His partner in the middle of the park, Jimmy Bullard, also had a good day, guiding home a well-worked team effort to keep Fulham bobbing around in the top half of the table. Jim's first League goal of the season, that, and more is expected from the Newham-born player. In defense, Middlesbrough's Justin Hoyte got a calll-up at the expense of Sol Campbell, and though his side lost Hoyte helped himself to an assist and a few points along with it.
Shame our strikers couldn't keep up the good work. Jermain Defoe floundered, while the hot streak Darren Bent's been on since Harry Redknapp's arrival at White Hart Lane has been curtailed - hopefully not a reflection on our decision to put him in the lineup in place of Carlton Cole, whose West Ham team met Tottenham in the Monday night fixture. That game's goals came from the side in white - with the ball put into our keeper Robert Green's net by his Londonist teammate Ledley King for the first meant that, along with the defender's clean sheet, he was ushered into the League's team of the week.
A successful trip back to the Boleyn for Harry Redknapp then, as they pinched the east Londoner's league spot on goal difference alone. A glance at the table now reveals that, while both sides are still in touching distance of the drop spots (and they are the only London sides currently in the bottom half), Tottenham are indisputably on an upward trajectory, while West Ham are sinking fast. The decision to defenestrate Alan Curbishley and replace him with the amiable yet inexperienced Gianfranco Zola looks more and more questionable.
Image by WowtheWorld's Flickrstream via the Londonist pool