We have a decent Mailbox. Thanks to VAR. Mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Is it a Blue Peter competition?
It’s like they had a secondary school competition to design VAR instead of actually getting a company to do it…
Relieved Spurs are through, Rochdale where excellent again and fair play to their supporters.
Exploring all the VARiables
It’s good to see that VAR is being thoroughly tested prior to its possible full-time introduction.
The first 45 minutes last night surely saw every possible way to mishandle it explored in full, which is an important part of any testing phase.
Talking Moira and VAR
I’m sure you’ll get plenty of emails about the game last night and VAR but I wanted to pick up on an incident that wasn’t really discussed too widely, but maybe shows in a nutshell why VAR is so difficult to implement in football – the Lucas Moura (or Moira, to Robbie Savage) penalty claim.
Lucas Moura was running in to the Rochdale penalty area chasing the ball down and may or may not have got to it before the goalkeeper when a Rochdale defender stepped across him with a shoulder into his chest, knocking him over. The defender was making no attempt to get the ball, simply to impede the attacker and did so. It was one of those that normally gets labelled “soft”, “anywhere else on the pitch”, etc. but by the laws of the game is an offence, punishable by a free kick, or a penalty if it’s inside the penalty area.
It was reviewed by VAR and the decision was no penalty (obviously, this is not accompanied by an explanation). So we go to the expert referee in the studio – Chris Foy, who informs us that it was the correct decision but again, no explanation, either at the time or later. Presumably this was because there isn’t a valid explanation to why this wasn’t deemed an offence, other than it’s an accepted norm that “there has to be a bit more in it” to be a pen. In fact, I even heard Graham Poll use that phrase as a pundit on another game recently. Now, we all expect ex-players, as they did last night, to say that type of thing but for VAR to work surely the referees need to have clearer definitions of what is an offence and what isn’t so that these can be used be given as justification.
We can all accept (well, most of us can) a referee with one look at it making a call during the game and getting some wrong and some right. Yes, he’ll get get some wrong but he’ll get many more right, and those that are wrong will often be because a player is deliberately exaggerating or initiating any contact.
But when we go to VAR and neither that or an expert referee can justify a decision it’s a mess and makes you wonder how that really helps the game, referees, fans, or players.
Final point, whether you think Son’s feint was legal or not, on the VAR review, it was obvious that the encroachment had occurred first, initially by Tottenham players, so should have been a re-take. Again, this wasn’t discussed or used to inform the on-field decision-making.
It all just seems so arbitrary to me what they decide to pick up on and how they apply the laws. For me, bringing in VAR needs to be done thoroughly with clear analysis of all factors including providing clear explanations (sounds really exciting doesn’t it!) or not at all. I think I know which I’d prefer.
Dave B, Stevenage
Everything we thought we knew is wrong
I’m confused. After a lifetime of watching football and thinking I have a fair idea of the laws of the game, after watching the shambles of a Spurs game last night I have a question.
For years we have seen two players tussling over a ball, two or three yards outside the area, as play continues they then end up inside the penalty box and the player with the ball hits the deck.
In the last forty years in every occurrence I can remember the referee has brought the play back to where the offence started and given a free kick.
Last night, after what seemed like the length it would take to reproduce the Mona Lisa whilst the referee gurned with his finger in his ear before giving the penalty, we were then told by BT’s ‘expert’ Chris Foy (Homer to his ‘mates’) that the referee had in fact made the correct decision.
So, my question is, who’s right? The entire history of association football or one gormless berk destroying the game with the use of VAR?
I’m just counting the hours until I am ‘mansplained’ away from my rage at yet another not given penalty to my team whilst, at the same time, hearing the referee lauded for ‘bringing the play back to where the offence began’ and then, knowing how VAR seems to work for my team, getting a player sent off for complaining.
I was at Wembley and…
I would like to think I’m one of the more balanced, patient and considered football fans. We do exist, but having got back from freezing my knackers off at Wembley, I can’t find the words to fully explain how terrible the application of VAR is, particularly for the fans that are left bemused on the side lines as goals are disallowed, free kicks become penalties and everyone downs tools for minutes at a time.
I witnessed, and was part of, a demonstration of VAR killing football. A high tempo game, with a surprisingly upbeat crowd, was wrecked because the referees don’t know how to apply the rules and the crowd are left completely in the dark about where the referees confusion is. When both sets of fans are jeering the same reviews you know something has gone badly wrong, and when Spurs (my team) were upgraded from a free kick to a pen I wasn’t pleased, I was genuinely embarrassed to be a beneficiary of this flawed and ill judged system. I saw seven goals tonight (Seven!) but my abiding memory is 26,000 supporters around me looking on in sheer confusion as their enthusiasm was drained from the match.
We played some glorious football, and so did Rochdale, but this horrid VAR system will continue to dominate with negative headlines until it is sorted or abandoned. As a fan who has now experienced it first hand, I hope never to again.
…So obviously I never ever want to see VAR ever again. It replaces human error with human error so adds no benefit. And then it ruins the flow of the game which makes it worse.
Well done Rochdale for two great games.
Dave, Winchester Spurs (Lucas Moura looks like the real deal)
What has happened to Harry Winks?
I’ll let the more concise and bothered pick the bones out of VAR. Amount of time wasted was more ridiculous than some of the decisions made.
How poor did Spurs look in the first half?
Foyth/Dier one hell of a bad combo. JF surely will be converted to a CDM type player or one of a three, absolutely cannot play as half a centre-back pairing but his ball control and confidence going forward does look decent.
Sissoko didn’t even do enough to be abused for being his usual non-footballer status.
Lucas looks great and a different type of player for us, either of him or Lamela should be starting ahead of Alli in the next couple of games.
The main point of the mail is what the hell has happened to Winks? A serious injury and only a few games will be the excuses but he’s had those few games against lesser opponents and if he wants to get any real game time it’s for one spot as Dembele is un-droppable this season. I cannot see him getting close to a first-team start the way he’s been and can’t understand the change compared to last season.
This is off the back of a deluded Toffee friend of mine betting hefty money against me last season that Tom Davies will get more England caps than Harry Winks in however many years time. A bet I thought was a banker the way the two were playing but am now not so sure, is he another Tom Carroll?! Anyone else with some similar longstanding bets?
BC, (Still regret not betting on Kane to get the all time scorer record two years ago)
The Ultimate Hat-trick
Many years ago – after a Tony Yeboah Champions League hat-trick – a German work colleague told me it wasn’t a true hat-trick because he hadn’t scored his three goals in the same half with no other goals scored in between (what seems quite similar to a cricket bowler’s hat-trick).
Then we have the perfect hat-trick (left foot, right foot, header) and in the years since speaking to my German colleague I have wondered if anyone would ever score a perfect true hat-trick – left foot, right foot, header, all goals in the same half no other goals in between.
And so to last night and step forward Fernando Llorente and my quest was complete. 22 years in the making but I’m sure there must be others. Can any of the enlightened readers recall any?
Chris M (Hat-trick lover), The Grim North
More on getting kids to football
John makes a good point about Colchester and prices in general. It’s not realistic for clubs to half their prices and expect to double their attendances. And why would Premier League clubs drop their prices if they sell out the stadium anyway? After crunching some quick numbers and estimating a conservative four European games and three cup games for Liverpool, dropping the price of every ticket by £10 would cost the club £15m over the course of a season. That’s two Andrew Robertsons with some change left over.
But surely we can offer more to younger fans? There’s all sorts of things Premier League clubs could do. Tickets reserved for children or families etc. And for those clubs that don’t sell out stadiums, make tickets super cheap for children.
Aberdeen used to sell tickets for £1 for the under 12s and I had a season ticket when I was 16 for about £160, less than a tenner a game. The benefit of this of course is that adults generally go with children. If a parent is taking two young children to the game, £28 + £1 + £1 suddenly seems like a reasonable couple of hours entertainment. Young fans also become older fans and if I had stayed in Aberdeen I’d still be going now. Adults are generally happier to pay full whack.
The average age of football fans is a worry. If something isn’t done, where will the next generation come from?
Mike, LFC, Dubai
Football fan experience is horrible…because of football fans
The football experience is FAR worse than horrible.
Chris MUFC’s mail was bang on except it didn’t go anywhere near far enough. Before another word, I spent 12 years in the Army followed by 25 years as a copper and 10 years of the latter was spent as a football hooligan specialist. Shrinking violet or snowflake I ain’t, believe me. The football ‘experience’ has been the elephant in the room for decades. I’ve been going to matches since 1972 and remain more than happy to attend with mates but I would never take a child, girlfriend or wife.
Why? Because football grounds are the only place where men feel they have a right to behave in such a fashion that is simply unacceptable in any other public area. The verbal abuse, the drunkeness, the drugs, the threats, the expectation of/actual violence etc simply does not occur in any other sport and I (quite seriously) include illegal ones.
Football is the only sport where TV commentators routinely have to apologise for chants, ‘songs’ or behaviour. Where away players taking a corner will have the inevitable camera backdrop of ‘fans’ making gestures that would get them nicked if they did it anywhere else but a football ground. Or spitting, or throwing coins or bottles. Or running onto the pitch to confront a player. Every other sport in this country goes ahead every week with minimal or no Policing and, where they do have OB, they are normally there to prevent crime or facilitate crowds and traffic. Football is the only sport where Police Officers are there to prevent violence between rival fans. Football is the only mainstream sport where Police Officers are in routinely deployed in riot kit. Football is the only sport where the relevant authorities will have to factor in the likely level of violence for both domestic and, uniquely, international fixtures. Football is the only sport where segregation would NEVER be countenanced by the authorities and whose fault is that?
Before anybody reaches for the ‘mindless minority’ Get Out Of Jail Card beloved by Clubs, Leagues and Senior Police Officers alike, I can promise you that that excuse is utter b*llocks. The vast majority of people I dealt with in my time as a Football Officer, from behaviour warranting a simple ejection/words of advice up to serious prison time, were blokes in full time employment and, almost always, married with children. Not kids. Not skinheads with swastikas tattooed on their forehead. And the thing that floored me when I first realised these blokes were the ‘norm’ was the fact that, outside of that football ground they would never have dreamed of acting as they did inside of it.
If you were stood in a bus or train station and a group of men were screaming abuse at a driver telling him he was a c**t, or in a shopping centre with your kids and a complete stranger next to you is shouting at someone nearby, in graphic detail, what he’d do/has done to guy’s wife/girlfriend then, I’d suggest, you’d either be having a word or calling 999. Why buy a season ticket for your children to hear or see any of that crap?
In terms of the more negative aspects ‘Football’ has cleaned up its act a lot but it is nowhere near finished. You want more young supporters? Want to make it THE popular event in your town? Then sort out the above.
PS. Anybody wants to talk about “killing atmosphere” etc. Go find a mirror. Hold it up with the shiny side facing you. Don’t blink and don’t f*cking move for about two hours.