Whatever the rights and wrongs of tonight’s VAR decisions – technically, in my opinion, both were right – it suggests to me that the new system is killing the game. You can argue that both decisions were correctly assessed by VAR – it’s a simple fact that our ‘second’ goal was offside – but the errors from officials were hardly “clear and obvious”. Instead, the decisions were aiming for perfection. However, when it comes to VAR, there is a strong argument that says we football fans deserve VAR.
How many games have you been to where the crowd has spent the entire match on the back of the referee who doesn’t know what he’s doing? Or the linesman who repeatedly gets marginal offside decisions wrong? In the opinion of the bloke on the terraces.
That’s how it has always been. Decisions were always “in the opinion of the referee.” Things were always that way. Even running the line is, as I have learned through experience, sometimes little more than a best guess. VAR will take that away from the elite part of the game. You can bet your arse that VAR will eventually be extended to all other aspects of football.
Because officials were so bad, or so we believed, and because there is so much money at the top end of the game, the authorities did something about it. They brought in VAR. But VAR isn’t perfect either. Our “penalty” was eventually in the opinion of the game. Everyone on social networks disagrees with everyone else. Not everyone agreed with me that it was a penalty.
It was not a clear and obvious penalty. The fact that it took so bloody long to give showed the decision could have gone either way. Why on earth do we need the referee to guess, on the basis of countless reviews, whether it was a penalty or not? VAR, in this case, was not factually accurate. It was someone’s opinion.
We will have this every week from now on and I am not sure I can stand it. Yes, Big Money demanded VAR because of the stakes involved and yes, we the supporters were not careful about what we asked for. Now we have the worst of all worlds. A system that makes decisions on the basis of a few centimetres as well as leaving things open as a matter of opinion and guesswork.
Doubtless, Sky and Match of the Day will love it. I fucking hate it.