The Real Football Man

Now if you can cast minds back a couple of weeks you would have hopefully read my diatribe about all things VAR – otherwise unfortunately known as the ‘Video Assistant Referee’ I say unfortunately because it is fair to say that even in its infancy it has been an absolute blight on the game.

The last reference I made of this new toy was during the F.A. Cup 3rd Round Replay between Chelsea and Norwich, a fixture in which VAR hardly came through with flying colours. Skip on a round and the end result is the same as once again we are mired in more controversy regarding this video nasty.

Liverpool vs West Brom at Anfield could well of been the fixture of the 4th Round had it not been for the over zealous use of the Football Association’s new piece of kit, it got so much use it was like the equivalent of when you owned a Camcorder back in 1990’s (no not a Go Pro, ask your Dad)

Back in the day before Lad Bible was all the range, people would use Camcorders for recording just about anything and I mean anything, you only have to remember the fact that You’ve Been Framed was a huge hit back in the day when falling over in a bush would earn you £250.

So with that slightly tenious analogy out of the way, it is almost as if the F.A. have said to themselves ‘well we have forked out quite a lot of money for this gadget, there is no point it sitting their being covered in dust is there’ and with that request granted, they certainly got their wish last weekend.

It’s not necessarily the fact that VAR has been introduced, admittedly I am far from a fan but me sitting here with my laptop is ultimately powerless to stop what I guess has to be deemed as progress but the issue for me and just about everyone else was the fact that the use of it took so long.

So much so it was bordering on the farcical or should that be varcical?, I mean four minutes to decide whether Mohamed Salah had been hauled down in the box is laughable, the excitement from any potential decision was completely stripped out of the game.

Yes the correct decision was made and I guess if anything that has to be applauded but the issue we now have is that the use of this technology has now taken the drama of the game away from the fans in attendance, it is bad enough having to wait that long for a call to be made but this was only further extended at Anfield.

The issue there is that there are no screens for the fans to see what is going on in terms of a decision, it was literally a case of fans waiting and waiting and waiting. Far from ideal but then again what is the solution, is it making big screens mandatory in the Premier League and if so who fits the cost of this?

But the underlying issue is that although VAR did not get anything wrong in terms of it’s decisions, it has now in essence meant that the game is being decided by a computer, the human influence has been diminished and to the point that no-one really knows when or why it should be implemented.

What makes things worse and also adds to the frustration for fans is the fact that Chris Foy is on TV just towing the company line, it was almost robotic in his response to the fact that it took four minutes to make the Salah penalty call “well the average is two and half minutes, so….”

Precisely Chris, it took an extra 90 seconds above the average to finally come to the conclusion, why not just be honest at the time and say “do you know what, it was not a success tonight there still is a lot of fine tuning with this equipment still to be done”

At least that way fans would appreciate that all is not perfect rather then being force fed the narrative that all is well and the decision to trial VAR is one that is fully justified. Another final point, why is this only being used in selective cup matches?

Surely this then distorts the competition, we either roll it out across every game (let’s say from the 3rd Round onwards as the cost for the lower leagues clubs would be incredibly apprehensive) or we don’t roll it out at all. Unfortunately though this is not the case. Oh well at least the World Cup will be interesting, let’s hope FIFA rewind the video on this one.

Until next week