At least West Ham fans can’t moan about those VAR decisions
PUBLISHED: 16:39 07 April 2020 | UPDATED: 16:39 07 April 2020
PA Archive/PA Images
Time to sort out this Premier League mess
There are very few things to come out of the suspension of Premier League football.
Over 50,000 West Ham fans are being denied their fortnightly fix of controversy, excitement, thrills and spills.
But there is always a silver lining and that for the Hammers comes in the form of not having to moan about the efforts of the Video Assistant Referee or VAR for short – ‘bloody VAR’ to make it a bit longer.
When it was introduced at the start of the Premier League season back in August, West Ham fans must have been content with the knowledge that some of the dreadful decisions they had suffered in the past would be rectified.
Remember that diabolical Callum Wilson handball goal at Bournemouth? Or that palpably offside move by James Milner which led to the Liverpool goal last season?
However, what we didn’t realise was just how determined the VAR officials were to take all the fun and entertainment out of the game!
There was no more wild celebrations of goals, no reckless abandon from the fans, just in case the dreaded VAR decided that it wasn’t a goal.
Similarly, if a goal was disallowed then, even though there were few appeals to the contrary from players or fans, that decision was scrutinised to the nth degree.
West Ham have certainly suffered with that scenario this season.
They may have benefitted when Leandro Trossard’s strike for Brighton was ruled out by VAR, but then Jordan Ayew’s winner for Crystal Palace and Glenn Murray’s equaliser for the Seagulls looked more ridiculous decisions.
The biggest problem with the system is that the advice that only ‘clear and glaring errors’ would be rectified is not being adhered to.
When it takes four minutes to decide on an offside decision which is finally determined by someone’s elbow, that is not for the good of the game, it is spoiling this beloved sport.
Perhaps the worst decisions that have affected the Hammers this season were similar ones.
Michail Antonio’s superb run and finish at Southampton in December was ruled out as a Saints defender had kicked the ball against the striker’s arm as he bulldozed his way through.
Fortunately, West Ham were already 1-0 up at St Mary’s and held on to that lead.
At Sheffield United it made a huge difference as Declan Rice marauded forward before setting up Robert Snodgrass for a late equaliser.
No-one complained, but when the goal was ruled out for another supposed handball by Rice, the home crowd celebrated by chanting ‘VAR’ as if it was an extra player for the Blades.
Were any of these decisions clear and glaring errors? No.
It is safe to say that West Ham have suffered far more than they have benefitted from VAR this season.
Perhaps that is because they have been struggling for points, or perhaps the top clubs are still getting the big decisions.
With this Premier League hiatus, it gives officials a chance to reassess how they do things.
Perhaps when we return, we will see referees on the field, given the benefit of the doubt more often. But don’t hold your breath!
VAR incidents for West Ham so far this season
v Manchester City (h) 0-5
Sterling goal disallowed, but penalty ordered to be retaken as Declan Rice infringed in the box.
v Brighton (a) 1-1
Trossard goal for Brighton ruled out by debatable offside.
v Bournemouth (a) 2-2
Josh King goal, originally ruled out for offside, is given by VAR after four minutes of checking.
v Crystal Palace (h) 1-2
Jordan Ayew’s winner is originally ruled out for offside, but then awarded after another long deliberation by VAR.
v Burnley (a) 0-3
Chris Wood’s header from Dwight McNeill’s cross is ruled out for offside, but it mattered not a jot.
v Southampton (a) 1-0
Michail Antonio’s bulldozing run and strike is ruled out for handball after it was kicked against his arm.
v Bournemouth (h) 4-0
Mark Noble wins a penalty and the decision is backed up by VAR.
v Sheffield United (a) 0-1
Robert Snodgrass scores a last-minute equaliser, but it is ruled out by Declan Rice being penalised for the ball striking his arm in the move.
v Brighton (h) 3-3
Glenn Murray’s equaliser is ruled out for handball, but inexplicably given by VAR after ridiculously long deliberations.
v Liverpool (a) 2-3
Liverpool have a goal ruled out for offside, the only decision to go the Hammers way on the night.
v Arsenal (a) 0-1
Lacazette winner is ruled out for offside, but given after another long process by VAR.
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