Tuesday 12 November 2019

VAR-crime on the rise in 'what goes around comes around' culture

In his previous occupation as a football manager, betting promoter Harry Redknapp used to dismiss the notion of video technology to govern debatable incidents on the pitch.

"These things even themselves out over the season" Redknapp reasoned, claiming that every team had more or less the same share of good and bad luck within the course of the nine month slog. That penalty you didn't get when your forward was blatantly chopped down? Well, hold off sprinting after the ref in disgust because next week you'll be given a goal that comes off a hand, and you won't give so much of a toss for justice, then.

Not all managers are as philosophical as Redknapp and refuse to see the light in favour of exhibiting the obvious conspiracy against them. Steve Bruce, for example, while manager of Sunderland in 2010-11, saw Arsenal have two goals incorrectly ruled out for offside at The Emirates and took away a nil-nil draw without complaint. Then, the very next week, he was moaning on about the ref costing his team a 2-0 defeat at home to Liverpool.

Mark Hughes is another one doused in ignorance, as regularly as night and day exercising the slack jaw, bemused frown and outstretched arms claiming yet another outrage against him. It's all one way according to him and Brucie. I'm sure it’s nothing to do with being managed by Alex Ferguson.

I might go further than Redknapp and add that the even-ing-out-over-a-season theory can sometimes become an even-ing out over the decades, sometimes involving exact opponents. For instance, England benefited from a goal that hit the crossbar and didn't cross the line in the 1966 World Cup against West Germany and then, 44 years later, when England did definitely put the ball over the line in-off the crossbar against the rebranded Germany, the goal wasn't given. Where Geoff Hurst's strike turned 2-2 into 3-2, Frank Lampard's wasn't allowed to turn 1-2 into 2-2. Perhaps if Lamps had stayed at West Ham it would have counted. Further proof that his decision to leave Redknapp's Hammers for Chelsea in 2001 was a cursed move.

What we have in the present day is Redknapp's assertion continually realised but in technological form. VAR has, in just half a season, shown that while some clubs may get the VAR rub of the green one week, they will likely be it's victim the next. Tottenham Hotspur, for instance, were denied a likely match-sealing second goal at Leicester in September thanks to their lively employee, Son Heong Min, being caught blatantly level with the last outfield defender. Going on to lose that game at the King Power Stadium, Son must have been nodding in righteous approval at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium this Saturday just gone, when Sheffield United were denied an equaliser thanks to the protruding toe of United's John Lundstram.

VAR supporters may point out that Sheff U got away with a foul in their penalty area on Arsenal defender Sokratis last month, but Arsenal fans now await equilibrium having suffered not just this incident but also Sokratis' incomprehensibly disallowed 'winner' at home to Crystal Palace last month. Sadly for this crop of Arsenal fans, given their team's infrequent visits to the penalty area, they may not see karma realised for a few seasons yet, perhaps decades even, as VAR looks for ways to 'even it up' for them.                              

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