Plane speaking provides Premier League’s latest desperate, drastic, unprecedented VAR twist

Editor F365
A VAR check
A VAR check during a Premier League match.

The VAR discourse has taken a desperate, drastic, unprecedented twist while Roy Keane’s return to Manchester United is as good as done.


Pilot scheme
The Sun call it ‘the latest desperate move’.

The Mirror go for ‘The Premier League is so desperate to sort out VAR it has taken… drastic action.’

For the Mail, it’s an ‘unprecedented measure’.

The Mail’s unloved cousin the Express unsurprisingly goes down similar lines with ‘The Premier League have reportedly brought in unprecedented measures’

The Daily Star’s coverage is actually the most sensible and least astonished among all the tabloids, but they still call it the ‘latest twist in the VAR discourse’.

So what exactly is this desperate, drastic, unprecedented latest twist in the VAR discourse?

The Times has revealed that a couple of British Airways pilots have done a well-received 45-minute presentation to Premier League referees about the importance of clarity and brevity in communication under pressure. Pilots talking to referees? Surely you can’t be serious? I am serious, and don’t call me etc. and so forth.

That’s literally it, though. It’s all a bit wanky, all a bit LinkedIn. But it’s not desperate or drastic or unprecedented or even a twist. People from one line of work doing a brief presentation to people in a different line of work about how key skills from one can benefit the other is just about the most mundane and run-of-the-mill thing imaginable. Literally anyone who works in an office has probably sat through something similar at some point in their working lives.

And improving the clarity and professionalism of VAR chats was the most glaring and obvious takeaway from the Spurs-Liverpool Luis Diaz fiasco. This seems a perfectly rational and sensible thing to have done as one small measure in the overarching attempt to improve that.

Plus we’re really looking forward to any future VAR audio releases being delivered exclusively in that not-quite-British, not-quite American mid-Atlantic accent all pilots are required by law to use. It’ll at least hide which ones are from Greater Manchester, thus reducing conspiracy theories by a small amount.


Famous five
Glass half-empty is often the most successful way to get hits in this game, but even so the Mirror’s weekend Arsenal team news piece is a bit much.

Arsenal without at least 5 players vs Brentford

Or, put another way, Gabriel Jesus, Martin Odegaard and Ben White could all be fit to play. The five Arsenal will be without include Jurrien Timber – not really news, given he’s very possibly out for the season – as well as Emile Smith Rowe and Thomas Partey, neither of whom would have been expected to return for this one anyway. Which leaves us with the ineligible David Raya and Fabio Vieira, again players whose absences were already common knowledge.


That’s his job
‘KEANE TO RETURN,’ farts a headline in The Sun, successfully getting our attention and setting off all our alarms.

Roy Keane tipped for stunning Man Utd comeback as Sir Jim Ratcliffe plots shakeup after takeover

We can barely even be bothered, frankly. You’ve all read Mediawatch for long enough by now to know what’s going on here.

Steve Bruce, if you’re wondering. Who is at least a Manchester United-adjacent figure. But that initially unequivocal headline – KEANE TO RETURN – and this intro…

Roy Keane has been tipped to make a sensational Manchester United return by one of his former team-mates.

…don’t quite accurately convey Bruce’s actual thoughts on the matter having obviously been directly asked the question by the Irish Examiner.

‘Who knows? I’m sure he’d be open to any discussion.’

Who knows, Steve? Well according to The Sun… you do.


Low Tone
Mediawatch has long since given up trying to understand the tabloid definition of the word EXCLUSIVE, but what we do know is that the word’s meaning definitely changes significantly when it’s in all caps. Because it definitely doesn’t mean the same as ‘exclusive’ does it?

Unless you really are just finding out today for the very first time from The Sun’s EXCLUSIVE that Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham might be interested in signing Ivan Toney in January, in which case fair enough.