I thought all the controversy surrounding VAR had settled down last season and that those responsible for administering it were achieving a good level of consistency in decision making, and that the widespread criticism from managers and players of previous seasons was subsiding.
Well, if the first few weeks of the season are anything to go by, the VAR system has taken a massive step backwards. Nobody watching the Chelsea v Spurs match could have failed to see Chelsea left-back Marc Cucurella having his hair pulled at a corner by Cristian Romero. Referee Anthony Taylor had a clear view of the incident but decided to take no action. Mike Dean as the VAR official then decided not to ask Taylor to view the incident on the pitch side monitor. To make matters worse, a few days later Dean confirmed he had made a mistake.
In the Crystal Palace v Aston Villa match, the ball hit the hand of Villa player Lucas Digne when he went up for an aerial challenge. There was no intent involved and it was completely accidental. Nothing was given by the referee and rightly so, but VAR got involved and a penalty was awarded, which was a wrong decision in my view. Doubtless an apology will follow from the Premier League this week.
I also fail to understand the decision making around the sending offs in the Chelsea v Spurs match of the two managers. If a player is sent off, he misses the next match, and the same should apply to managers. Why on earth is it necessary to wait for the reasons to be written out by the FA. That doesn’t happen with a player so managers should be dealt with in the same way. The television pictures give you all the evidence and detail you need.
Both should serve a touchline ban. Having said that, even the most partisan of Chelsea fans would have to admit that Thomas Tuchel was the aggressor and deserved the heavier fine. After Chelsea scored, he raced down the touchline celebrating past Conte which in itself is a yellow card offence and then at the end of the match as Conte went to shake Tuchel’s hand Tuchel clearly pulled Conte around and provoked the confrontation. Doubtless he was frustrated that Chelsea had not won a match they deserved to but that is not Conte’s fault. It is not a good example to set for kids watching on TV.
In the coming weeks, VAR needs to prove it is a credible solution to mistakes made in open playand managers need to stop acting like prima donnas and behave on the touchline.