Selection this, selection that...
You might have read West Ham United have complained to the Premier League about Fulham's decision to rest players last weekend when they played (and lost) 2-0 to Hull City. Obviously, a weakened Fulham side is detrimental to West Ham (and arguably others in the same predicament down at the bottom) because to those sides struggling for points, seeing one of their rivals for survival gather them with comparative ease leaves a bad taste in their mouth.
You'll remember similar complaints when Wolves fielded practically a reserve side up at Old Trafford, a sacrifice/risk that their manager calculated as worthy. If you're not going to win against Manchester United, you might as well lose without losing players to injury. Utd's rivals might also disagree with these types of selections because it is, on paper, an easy three points. But that's not Man Utd's problem, is it? The same way it's not Fulham's problem if West Ham are absolute toilet.
Wolves lost three points at United, and won three against Burnley. Rather than end up with the one or nothing at all. Sure, it should be about glory and had Wolves shocked Utd...but then again the manager makes the final decision, and in this case it paid off for McCarthy. Much like it has in the eyes of Hodgson and their 2-1 win in the Europa League.
For the sake of footballing justice, yes, I agree every side should be at its most strongest in order for competition to be fair. But define strongest? Actually, don't bother because that's not your job - it's the managers. If Hodgson wants to play youth and reserves because he has prioritised his teams objectives (Europe being that priority) then the side that faced Hull was the strongest he could possibly field.
If West Ham are in such dire desperate times, they should perhaps look inwards at sorting out their inability to function as a cohesive unit. If a side is in trouble it's because they've dragged themselves down there and not because other teams are winning thanks to the odd (very rare) occasion a rival side has played an under-strength upper region side and won.
The footballing governing bodies should not legislate team selections to the nth degree. Even if the final game of the season a manager rests every first team player in a game that might decide someone else's fate - and yes, I know, the Hull/Fulham result might just have been that type of game - just not played on the final day. And nobody rests players for the sake of it, there's always a reason and that reason is always justified as far as the team doing the resting are concerned. It's the ones who are desperate who look for a way to claw back some hope.
The crux of the problem is that this form of complaint is driving towards the suggestion that a club should consider the plight of another club when they are making decisions based on their own ambitions. The rule about having to field a full-strength side is there to protect the integrity of the league - which it does perfectly fine.
But placing another club ahead of your own? In a parallel universe perhaps where a match is postponed to allow players to recover from a dodgy lasagne, perhaps.
Hodgson cares for nothing more than Fulham and their progression, so of course he's going to take a risk and sacrifice potential points for the sake of silverware in another competition.
It's a bitter pill to swallow, and I know that if Spurs had to rely on others to fail (a possibility in the run-in for 4th place) its still something completely out of our control and there is nothing we can do other than do the best in our own games - a destiny we can shape. If one of our rivals plays an under-strength side and gains points that places them above us, that's just the way the cookie crumbles. If it was the other way around, we'd be smiling our faces off.
So to go back to the actual rule that West Ham are arguing Fulham broke (from the BBC article covering this story):
The Premier League's E20 rule stipulates that clubs must field a full-strength side in all top-flight games.
Perhaps next time Hodgson should play a full-strength side and ask them to play at around 40% effort. Which matches the level that West Ham have been playing all season long. Which should restore some balance to the farce.