It’s been confirmed that the Video Assistant Referee technology will be used for a select few EFL Cup ties later this month, and it will feature in games between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Leicester City, Manchester United v Derby County, Arsenal v Brentford, West Ham United v Macclesfield Town, v Liverpool and Chelsea, and finally, Everton v Southampton.
Wolves fans will be well aware of the controversy surrounding the VAR system – it was in use at the World Cup out in Russia over the summer and whilst the football authorities lauded its use and accuracy, the main takeaway for fans was the bizarre management of the system.
Clear and obvious errors – yet referees were spending minutes watching multiple replays, so not really ‘clear and obvious’ then, especially that one poor chap who seemed to spend ten minutes with the monitor before returning for yet another look before making his decision.
The other issues with the system are ‘clear and obvious’ themselves, one of the main problems is nobody is yet 100% sure if the referee should be informed by a VAR official or whether the referee should ask the VAR official for a second opinion.
Having watched the World Cup I’m not sure who was ordering who as it seemed to change in any given 45 minute period.
The Premier League member clubs did vote against its introduction this summer for 2018/19, rightly, it needs far more work – but in saying that I don’t dismiss the advantages it should bring.
As football works towards those advantages, VAR will again be on trial in the EFL Cup and having taken in four games at the second round stage, that now extends to six games in the third round as it is only being trialled at Premier League grounds – but Bournemouth appears to miss out for one.
We’ll have to see if (in or out of our favour) correct decisions are come to by the match day officials, or whether it’s simply a cluster-shambles of stoppages and confusion for both players and fans.
Wolves would’ve lost out I presume already this year given Willy Boly’s goal (handball) against Manchester City, but I’d take that if it ensures decisions are 100%.
My main concern is given how they package it and in its selective use, presumed favoured clubs and players who tend to gain an advantage in matches anyway will still have an unfair advantage based on perceptions and pressure.
Again, the World Cup showed ‘clear and obvious’ actually had no meaning in how it was used, so it’s not hard to see how the vague ‘clear and obvious’ statement could see existing preconceptions amongst officials simply continue and the use of VAR is adjusted to suit that.