Monday 23 September 2019

VAR now sizing up manhood in their clampdown on onside

While Tottenham Hotspur's Son Hoeng-min was peeling away the parking notice that was stuck to his shirt at The King Power Stadium on Saturday afternoon, BBC's Alan Shearer (who has also been caught on camera breaking the law at the home of The Foxes) was preparing to soften his stance on VAR.

Originally a dissenter to video technology review (perhaps understandably), and then a supporter when facing charges of living in the past, Shearer appeared to waver on the latest edition of Match of The Day when video footage captured Son doing possibly, maybe - and certainly not clearly and obviously - excess of level with the last outfield defender, as his side appeared to go 2-0 up against the top six/four/three hopefuls.

"What we need, Gary, is a soft VAR. The VAR at present is too hard. In fact, why not call the whole shite'n thing off if it means I don't have to talk about it every week for the rest of the bollocking season?" This was the new whichever-way-the-wind-is-blowing conclusion Alan had reached, or at least seemed to. Some of the quoted words may not have happened, I was 'going under' at the time.

The identity of Son himself, as the victim of a system that charges forward in its mission to stand alongside Harald Schumacher, Andoni Goiketchea ('The Butcher of Bilbao'), Catenaccio and Osvaldo Zubeldia as the darkest of anti-football exponents, is a worrying sign for even the most willowy of forwards such as the South Korean. Should VAR have been around in the days of Alan Smith's and Ian Rush's noses, their impressive goal outputs would have been drastically reduced. Whereas in horse racing or sprinting you can win by a nose, in VAR world, an unfortunate protrusion is a key disadvantage that will be exploited by canny defenders.

Plastic surgery may become rife in the modern game, as teams look to seek out that 1% differential than can decide a result, although the mental side of a player's mind as well as physical will need to be considered. Former Premier League striker, Robbie Fowler, himself in the Rush nose mould, once said that scoring goals was "even better than sex", and for his counterparts of the VAR era, any such arousal as the goal - and VAR line - beckons, could have damaging consequences. So far pundits have joked about the "armpit" and "toe-nail" of straying forwards, but even for the most diligent, line-holding attackers, how soon before one of them becomes the victim of their own erection?                 

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