It was supposed to make the game fairer. It was supposed to ensure that correct decisions were made, yet so far, VAR has continued to make the headlines for all the wrong reasons, and it seems Manchester City are on the receiving end of it.
Okay, it’s not just us and maybe that’s the biased coming out in me, but it does seem that VAR has conspired a little against the blues. Let’s take a look at a few examples.
This match is highlighted for two incidents. The first being Rodri being manhandled and shoved to the ground by a Spurs defender in the first half. Raheem Sterling can be seen asking the referee why it wasn’t a penalty as the referee had a clear view of the incident. The referee tapped his ear as if to say ‘I’ve not been told by VAR’ and played on
The second incident was the goal. City scored what looked like the winning goal , yet VAR decided (eventually after how long?) that the goal couldn’t stand because it had brushed Aymeric Laporte’s arm on it’s way to Gabriel Jesus. VAR seemed to be nicely in effect there, but not for the penalty. Were they asleep in the first half? Quite how any official could miss the blatant Rodri incident yet spot a handball in a fast moving incident is beyond anyone’s logic.
After the Spurs handball incident, I saw a question on social media – what happens if the ball accidentally hits a defender’s arm, then 20 seconds later his team scores? Should that be disallowed because the handball led to a goal? Well that question was answered on Sunday with a resounding no. There is a suggestion that Bernardo Silva handled accidentally a split second before the main incident, but because it didn’t lead to a goal, the ref played on. Surely a handball, accidental or not, should result in a free-kick?
But what constitutes an accidental handball? If you think about handball, what player would deliberately handle in the box, except maybe on the goal line to stop a certain goal, so many handballs are probably accidental, ball to hand etc, so how does a referee decide?
The second goal also looked to be offside, but yet again, VAR didn’t seem to check this. When Sterling scored at West Ham on the opening day, his goal was disallowed after a lengthy VAR check, yet there was no evidence of this happening on Sunday
The third incident of note was another handball in the box which again wasn’t given by the referee and again wasn’t checked by VAR. Why didn’t this happen again?
Of course, we are not alone in this and almost all teams have fallen foul of VAR at some point. But it just seems a bit odd that, in two big games for the blues, VAR didn’t seem to be in existence.
It also seems odd that these two handball stood out and weren’t given, yet in last season’s Champions League match at Hoffenheim, the home side were awarded a penalty when the ball struck Otamendi’s arm which was tucked in beside his body and was turning away from the ball. So what really constitutes handball?
I’m not complaining about the results; there’s nothing that can be done about them and City should really have defended better in both of the above games and taken their chances when presented to them. But VAR needs to be implemented fairly, and if they’re going to look at and scrutinise every goal City score, it’s only fair that the same should happen for every one they concede.