6 managers who fielded weakened sides in Europe
Gary Megson (Bolton)
Megson took the ‘tactical’ approach to Bolton's last 16 tie against Sporting Lisbon in the 2007/08 campaign. After a 1-1 draw in the first leg at home, and with his focus on a crucial game with Wigan the following Sunday, Megson made 11 changes to his line-up for the trip to Portugal. It proved self-destructive, and the decision backfired spectacularly. Bolton lost 1-0 in Lisbon via an 85th-minute winner, and were then beaten by 10-man Wigan a week later.
The Trotters spent the rest of the season battling relegation, though Megson’s gamble was perhaps forgiven by Wanderers after they maintained their Premier League status. Now battling the drop in the Championship, Bolton's last European appearance is but a frustrating memory. Few are remembering their league campaign.
Martin O’Neill (Aston Villa)
In 2009, Aston Villa found themselves at a stalemate in their tie with CSKA Moscow after a 1-1 draw at Villa Park in the first leg. With all to play for in the return fixture, O’Neill decided to ring the changes in Moscow and subsequently paid the price. Villa were dumped out of the competition and the travelling fans were left unimpressed, as the 2-0 defeat with a second-string team left supporters wondering whether the Villans might have made it through with a full-strength side.
O’Neill's decision to rotate didn't even do any good domestically. Villa’s form dipped and the fourth place they had been very much in touch with quickly slipped away. An eight-game winless run followed their European exit and they ended up finishing sixth.
Harry Redknapp (Tottenham)
During his time at Tottenham, it became well-versed that Redknapp didn't particularly prioritise the Europa League. Never was it more obvious than in the 2011/12 campaign when Spurs star Rafael van der Vaart wasn’t even registered to play in the group stages. The Dutchman picked up an injury while on Premier League duty and was then omitted from the European squad without notice, as he later groaned: "Spurs could at least have consulted me on this."
The north Londoners failed to make it out of the group stage, though Redknapp probably didn’t lose too much sleep over it. It may have helped Van der Vaart’s speedy recovery, but the decision left many questioning Redknapp’s lethargic approach to Europe.
Tony Pulis (Stoke)
Stoke in Europe! Into the knockouts! Against... Valencia?! If you'd have told a Potter that'd be the scenario three years previously, you may have been calmy instructed to put the funny pills away. But after negotiating a group featuring Besiktas, Dynamo Kyiv and Maccabi Tel Aviv in 2011/12, Tony Pulis's men were handed a mouthwatering last 32 clash against the former Spanish champions.
Mehmet Topal's stunner had given Valencia a narrow advantage going into the return leg at Mestalla, but Potters hopes of clawing their way back were dented before the second game even kicked off as Pulis left nine first-team regulars out of his squad for the trip to Spain.
Stoke only lost 1-0 on the night in a battling display, but Pulis was forced to defend his selection anyway. "We actually had four captains of their countries out there and the team had more experience than the one at the Britannia Stadium," he grumbled. "The team I played today is the team that have played the majority of games in Europe. I don't know what all the fuss is about." Hmm.
Alan Pardew (Newcastle)
Newcastle faced Benfica at St James’ Park in the second leg of their Europa League quarter-final in 2012/13. Having lost 3-1 in Lisbon, the Magpies knew a big home performance was required to edge past the Portuguese side. Alan Pardew had other ideas, though, with the Tyne-Wear derby just around the corner. Feeling the need to rest players, the likes of Gael Bigirimana, Jonas Gutierrez and Massadio Haidara were included instead.
But, despite Papiss Cisse taking the aggregate scoreline to 3-2 with 20 minutes remaining, Newcastle were eventually eliminated 4-2 on aggregate. A disastrous 3-0 defeat to Sunderland in the derby followed. All in all, not a great week for Pards.
Brendan Rodgers (Liverpool)
The former Liverpool boss led the Reds back into Europe's elite club competition following their brilliant charge for the Premier League title in 2014. But following a hit-and-miss group stage (a win at home against Ludogerets, before a loss against Basel and a defeat at Anfield to Real Madrid), Rodgers appeared to seriously diminish his team's chances of progression by fielding the likes of Kolo Toure, Joe Allen and Fabio Borini for the return game at the Bernabeu.
With Steven Gerrard, Raheem Sterling, Philippe Coutinho and Jordan Henderson all on the bench, and the first three not introduced until the final 20 minutes, it looked a tall order for the north-west outfit to get anything from the game, let alone qualify for the next round. They duly lost to a Karim Benzema goal, and following two more draws, switched to the Europa League with the chance of a sixth European crown gone.