Mails on VAR and Solskjaer fine being ‘flaccid’

Date published: Monday 1st March 2021 8:32 - Editor F365

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Conclusions VAR from okay
I’m genuinely amazed that Matt Stead thinks the penalty call doesn’t deserve a longer discussion or that it’s okay to sweep it under the rug, regardless of whether the rest of the game was boring, exciting, close, one-sided, or anything in between. The rest of the game should have no relevance to penalty calls at the moment, just like it makes no sense to bring up the validity of the foul on McT by Mount. For one, it was clearly a foul on McT, but even if it was questionable, how does it matter in the discussion about the penalty? Is it because you can’t find a legitimate reason as to why it wasn’t a penalty? I know it’s an unpopular opinion to suggest that decisions go against Man United, but the list of high profile ‘errors’ in our games just keeps growing. After the equally bewildering decision to disallow a perfectly legitimate goal in our last game against Sociedad, this penalty is now the second in two games.

I feel that these conclusions in general lacked depth and only reported on the facts of the game as they happened and failed to analyse the game at any level. This led to some questionable conclusions. For example, In point 13, you say Ole is the best manager in the league at changing games with subs. Why then is the timing of the subs a ‘legitimate criticism’? Did you not take into account the possibility that Ole (who as you claim is the best in the league at making subs) felt that the 79th minute was the best moment in the game to make the sub, and that in this case it didn’t work out? The confirmation bias against United comes out most clearly upon reading points 1, 2, 15, and 16 together. You say United countered Chelsea effectively in this game but that “the game in a depressing nutshell” was characterized by a lack of decision making and quality in the final third. Your overall claim here is that Ole is bad at managing big games, and really needs to work out a plan against sides of similar quality to United.

So in a ‘depressing nutshell’ of this article, Ole really has no clue of how to manage these games, yet managed to counter Chelsea quite well and that United would have won if we had better players. Also, let’s all just forget about the penalty, because if it was given, then Matt Stead would have had to write 16 conclusions on why Ole is a good manager and why United are actually a decent side (and he clearly doesn’t like that).
MM, Man United, India


It was the right call though
The penalty decision in the Chelsea game for me was actually the right decision, Let me explain…

Let us not forget VAR was brought in to fix “Clear and Obvious Errors”. It took a few minutes of first the VAR team, then the referee looking at a monitor to change nothing. Half the camera angles appeared to show it hitting Greenwood’s arm as opposed to Hudson-Odois. One camera angle (from the corner flag) shows it hitting Hudson-Odoi, but as he’s bracing himself for the impact from Greenwood his arm isn’t in a unnatural position. If it takes that long to establish exactly whose fingertips it brushed (at about a tenth normal speed), then surely either decision would not have been a clear and obvious error, so just play on?

I’m in favour of bringing in a 30 second rule for VAR. If any incident can’t be proved worth overruling in 30 seconds than referee and assistants desicion on pitch stands. No time to gets the lines out to measure an armpit hair against a little toe, no time to decide just how much of a shirt sleeve the ball brushed as an over hit cross sails out of play. This was it goes back to what it was designed for – fixing the huge mistakes like missing when a player is a full yard off, when someone goes through the back of someone but gets half a toe on the ball. Added bonus of not having players (and crowd when back) standing around waiting for ages on something they can’t see to decide when to celebrate a goal.
Tom (SWFC so no irons in the pot unless VARs in league 1 next year)


Really, Ole?
Did I just hear the Solskjaer talk about clubs and teams influencing officials in his post-match interview. Ole was part of a United team that ran around berating the referee on mass. To be fair the memory loss was consistent as Keane in the studio noted that he didn’t like to see Chelsea players hounding the ref. ROY F**KING KEANE!

As for the penalty appeal I was a little surprised the panel didn’t pick out Greenwood’s part in the incident. It’s clear that as Hudson Odoi raises his arm it’s driven up by Greenwood’s underneath him. You can clearly see this as Greenwood ends up juggling the ball as his arm overtakes Odoi. As for the match, two teams spent the entire match trying to cancel each other.

Last point, why do we have Gary Neville commentating on United games, it’s like listening to MUTV for the entire game. He doesn’t even try to hide his bias now.
P Didi


Ole being ‘flaccid’ is fine
I’m not entirely opposed to Ole’s flaccid approach to games against the Big Six. When he came in, there was more of a pressing need to re-assert ourselves as a force in domestic games and so setting out to beat our European-chasing rivals was more of an imperative; there was little on the line. Now we hold a likely Champions League berth consistently which we can only lose. Obviously, wins against the Big Six will put you in a position to win titles, but these are hardest to come by without a winning machine so a Mourinho-esque must not lose approach is a decent shout to guarantee a top four berth, which is both the realistic maximum and minimum expectations as we develop at present.

Until we can master Sheffield Utd, Palace, Burnley at home and West Brom and not bollocking up the Champions League group stages away consistently again (traditional bogey issues with weaker Man Utd teams) I don’t think we should prioritise setting out to beat the big boys. Drawing ten games against rivals but winning the other 28 puts you on 94 points and probably a title (plus a coveted Invincibles tag to boot 😏). Unlikely, sure but certainly no longer inconceivable.

The real majesty of the Guardiola and Klopp force majeurs these past few years has been to prove it is possible to smash absolutely everyone in one go – unprecedented achievements in the Premier league era and frankly god-like in elite team sport. Liverpool’s win rate was almost 72% in all competitions across the 2018-20 seasons and we all remember what that reaped. 72%!!! So Ole must raise the bar in this piecemeal fashion. Win rate, not wins. Then maybe edge the big games. Could work. Probably won’t due to aforementioned majesty, but he has worked miracles before and there are cycles and exceptions to this gig. Closer to the sun than we have been in years, anyway.
Andrei Kerkache, MUFC


Well done Andreas
Another game where Andreas Christensen didn’t put a foot wrong, honestly loving saying that sentence after each game he plays, not sure Thomas Tuchel has done to him but whether it is training, the right words being said or whatever, but it is bringing the best out of AC.

Nine games played under TT and we have kept seven clean sheets, yes we need more goals and that means we need to be more clinical, but I’ll focus on the positives, defensively we are looking and acting the part.

The best match up yesterday was easily Roy Keane vs Jamie Redknapp, fully expect a F365 article on the best pundit v pundit “disagreements/arguments” article this week.
Mikey, CFC


Get in Liverpool
A good performance and three very welcome points to cap off a weekend where Leicester, United, West Ham and Chelsea all dropped points. The top 4 will still be a big ask for Liverpool this season, but it is at least looking possible which is something.

It’s been said before, but it’s worth pointing out again just how extensive this injury crisis has been for Liverpool. Surprisingly, this is a fact that many rival fans, and some pundits, gloss over throwing out banal cliches like “Injuries have always been a part of football”. It seems like the entire first-team squad could all suffer from simultaneous ACL explosions and we’d still hear people criticizing Liverpool for not defending the title.

Last night Liverpool were playing with their third-choice keeper and probably their 5th and 6th choice central defenders. This was the 23rd different partnership we’ve used this season. Add on top of that injuries in many other positions including Jota, Keita, Ox, Allison, etc. Would anyone seriously argue that other teams, even City would have coped fine?

The point of this isn’t to moan. Injuries happen, that’s fine. But the criticism of the team and of Klopp has been totally over the top. Liverpool are still in the top-four race and are in a great position for the CL quarter finals. That’s not bad at all considering all that’s happened.
Mike, LFC, London


…A desperately needed win to just try and turn the tide a little bit. Other than against Leipzig we have just looked so turd recently so it was good to score goals from open play and also handy to get a clean sheet. I think we were able to score from open play today despite the low block because of Firmino and Jones. Firmino kept dropping deep but Jones kept moving up and becoming a forward. I think it pulled their defenders out of place and created gaps and 2 on 1 situations.

I am starting to wonder a bit about Thiago. He has lots of moments where he is brilliant within a game but I think he’s guilty of trying to do a bit too much every week. His desperation to influence the play results in rushing in and making silly fouls in silly places at both ends of the pitch. Today he gave them a dangerous free kick but also stemmed one or two of our attacks with needless fouls. Given he was at Barcelona and Bayern I’d imagine this is the biggest club crisis he’s ever been a part of and I wonder if he’s overdoing it in response to that.

Klopp suggested after the game that Fabinho and Jota could both be available by Thursday. You could see the centre of defence lacked a leader today which caused a few odd looking moments so Fabinho could prove critical to our season if he can stay fit. Nat Phillips is a good player but doesn’t have the pace to play a high line. I think he would do very well at clubs that do naturally sit a bit deeper.
Minty, LFC


On ‘competition’ and ‘interpretations’
There’s something genuinely horrible about football and what is being done with regards to officiating and decisions. Whether it’s because the league table looks an awful lot like the expenditure table (apols to the Moyesiah) or because most pundits hired as ex-professionals seem to know less about playing the game than spouting drivel – whatever the reason – the press, the pundits, the discourse is about officiating these days. And it’s soul-destroying.

So permit me to dig deeper for a quick moment. In the same competition, in the same season, a referee gave that handball against Lindelof, and did not give that handball against Hudson-Odoi.

For me, as a sports fan in general, it just makes no sense and speaks to the mockery that is football these days.

It would be akin to starting Wimbledon with the lines being in, and then in the first weekend deciding they’re now out. Or that a charge in basketball requires both feet to be set for the first 10 games, then just one foot for the next 10.

It’s unacceptable for a sporting body as well-paid as it is to be this bad at adminstering the sport. It leaves me to honestly get my tin-foil hat out and believe that it’s by design.
Ryan, Bermuda (obviously neither is a handball, but that’s not really the point)


Ranting about VAR
Warning in advance; the following is a VAR rant and includes some massive sour grapes about the egg-chasing as well. You may want to scroll on down to the next message if that is liable to boil your p*ss.

If you’re still with me, let me first lay my cards on the table that I am hugely anti-VAR and always have been. That said, I firmly believe the lion’s share of blame for the fiasco in the Brighton game has to be laid at the door of our game’s new technical “assistance”.

Lots to break down from that incident, but let’s begin with addressing quick free kicks in general. Should the team that has been infringed against have much more freedom to take the “free” kick whenever they like? Absolutely. Were the MOTD punditry team correct about the teams being unfairly disadvantaged by the time allowed to the transgressors to set a wall and arrange their team to defend the set piece (or words to that effect)? Completely. Is this actually anything new? Not really. But the laws are the laws and, currently, once the referee has indicated that everyone must wait for the whistle, then the expectation is that the whistle isn’t blown until everyone is set up and ready.

So; the incident itself. Lee Mason blew too early. He didn’t immediately spot that WBA weren’t set, which is fundamentally unfair on them, if the current laws of the game would give them reasonable expectation that they should have been given time to do so. That was his fundamental mistake and you need look no further than the Principality Stadium yesterday afternoon to see a perfect example of a referee blowing his whistle too early and being too much of an arrogant prick to recognise and correct his own error.

Mason, on the other hand, had the humility to recognise he had made a mistake as soon as he had seen where Sam Johnstone was positioned and blew his whistle to halt the game as quickly as he possibly could. Sorry, Brighton fans – but as much as I agree that the laws of the game should be changed to allow goals like that to stand, I just don’t think they do currently. And, at this point, I think the referee has every right to demand the kick be retaken irrespective of whether or not it has crossed the line.

Finally, we get to the true villain of the piece: VAR. Does anyone think, for a second, that in those circumstances three or four years ago, Lee Mason wouldn’t have simply called back play and had the kick retaken? He’d have copped some flak for his error in whistling early, but probably earnt some credit back for having the common sense to correct his error rather than doubling down and allowing the goal to stand. Instead we get this utterly absurd decision-making hokey-cokey, making an absolute mockery of the game. We’ve reached the point where the referees – so scared of their own shadows at the moment – feel like they have to double and triple check every little detail on the video screen, when a straightforward (and quick) decision should have sufficed. VAR has increased the uncertainty in referees’ decision making rather than improved it. They now know their margin for error has been artificially reduced in the eyes of the viewers, pundits and managers, even though the technology itself is shown to be subjective and flawed.

I still can’t comprehend what Mason thought he was looking for on the screen. What could a video tell him that he didn’t already know; namely that he had recognised that the free kick was not right to be taken and should have realised that he had the authority to disallow it and pull play back. More likely he just needed 90 seconds away from the players to clear his head and figure out the least worst way out of the predicament he’d created. If that’s what VAR is now being used for, then we’ve truly lost our way.

We need to support the referees. Let them referee the game and accept that they’re human. Don’t pretend that the mistakes haven’t happened (when they inevitably do), but call them out in the context of the whole game – don’t lambast them from the safety of a pundit’s chair or through a spiteful press article. VAR was always going to worsen the game and yesterday was a perfect example of how it is making an impossible job even harder.

And, yes, I do recognise the double standards in calling for respect to referees, in the same email as calling one an “arrogant prick”, but that was just a fundamental failure of common sense rather than the hair’s breadth or highly subjective decisions for which we chastise and vilify most referees (in Association Football, anyway) and which have been demonstrably shown to have been given no meaningful assistance by the video re-refereeing of games. Unfortunately, the genie is out of the bottle and we have failed to heed the age-old warning of being careful what we wish for.
Chris Bridgeman, Kingston upon Thames

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