The good, the bad and the ugly: VAR edition
Background Image Via: Geograph/Paul Gilett. Used under Creative Commons 2.0.
'Ooh aah, VAR!' The Manchester United fans sang as Marcus Rashford coolly slotted home the penalty which earned the Red Devils their place in the Champions League last eight. Barely a fortnight later, the video assistant referees were in the spotlight once again. This time around, we were privy to a real mixed bag from the technology that looks set to be implemented full-time, across all European football, in the not too distant future.
Ironically, United were involved again. Victor Lindelof went in on Diogo Jota with a crunching, but fair tackle. To everyone's surprise, Martin Atkinson went straight for his back pocket to produce the red card. Replays showed that it was a blatant yellow, and after looking at the tackle on the monitors, the referee and his official decided to overturn the decision and rightfully give the Swede a booking.
Not only did the team come to the correct decision but it was done quickly. In a game with so much at stake, it was brilliant to see technology used positively. For these clubs, all they're asking for is a fair crack at the whip. Anything that minimises human error is an obvious step in the right direction. Unfortunately, though, what took place at Molineux was as good as it got...
We start at The Den. Millwall found themselves 2-0 up in the dying embers, before Brighton & Hove Albion heroics saw them score two quickfire goals before going on to win the match on penalties. That doesn't paint the whole picture, though. Both goals scored by The Lions are up for debate due to fouls being committed by the home team. Not having technology readily available to spot those mistakes, and make the correct decision, is just unforgivable.
Now over to Wales... Swansea City were robbed. There are no two ways about it. The Championship team should be looking forward to a trip to Wembley Stadium and a winnable FA Cup tie against Brighton. Unfortunately, because VAR wasn't in use, City were given an incredibly soft penalty while Sergio Aguero's late winner should have been ruled out for offside. The unfairness in this situation is alarming. They say lightning doesn't strike twice, it did this weekend. I'd love to know what the FA big-wigs were thinking when making this appalling decision. Perhaps this is the jolt they need.
This won't come as a surprise to most, but what on earth were the Football Association thinking when they took the decision to only allow technology at Premier League grounds during this season's FA Cup competition? It was always going to end badly... While giving fans of lower league clubs something else to shout about in regards to favouritism, when the gap between the English top tier and everyone else is only increasing.
Premier League football teams will be able to call upon technology in every single league game next term. What about in the cup competitions? It's daft because in the past, VAR was actually used at Swansea's ground in the Carabao Cup last season. The stadium is obviously equipped to use it, but the FA have seemingly gone out of their way to ensure that it would be unavailable at some stadiums. The mind boggles.
All-in-all, the thought of VAR is still looking better than the technology itself. There is still work that needs to be done before we're ready for a full introduction across football, but I just think it's unfair that some clubs can benefit from it while others can't Everyone should be on a level playing field, and right now, they aren't. Sometimes it baffles me when the FA give the go-ahead for these ludicrous decisions, and right now, they deserve all the expletives that are being sent their way...