Quest for decision-making utopia is futile, says Postecoglou

A manic derby featured nine VAR checks, five disallowed goals, two red cards, and enough mayhem to fill a season in the 111 minutes the game took to complete.

Published : Nov 07, 2023 16:40 IST , LONDON - 3 MINS READ

After yet another round of Premier League fixtures in which VAR played an unwitting lead role, Tottenham Hotspur manager Ange Postecoglou perhaps hit the nail on the head after a riotous 4-1 home defeat against Chelsea on Monday.

A manic derby featured nine VAR checks, five disallowed goals, two red cards, and enough mayhem to fill a season in the 111 minutes the game took to complete.

Two days earlier, Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta railed against the match officials and VAR after Newcastle United’s winning goal was allowed to stand despite it being checked for three possible offences in the build-up.

Disgraceful and embarrassing was Arteta’s opinion, but Postecoglou, while clearly not a fan of the technology, offered a more measured response after a tumultuous evening in north London that ended in his first Premier League defeat.

“Unfortunately it’s how we’re going to have to watch and participate in football from now on,” the Australian told reporters.

“I don’t like it. I don’t like the standing around. I don’t like the whole theatre around waiting for decisions.

“But I know that I’m in the wilderness with that. I’m on my own. In my 26 years I was always prepared to accept the referee’s decisions, good, bad or otherwise, and I’ve had some shockers in my career let me tell you.

“It seems like there isn’t a great call for us to go back to accepting the referee’s decisions for the majority of it. But in searching for this utopia of no wrong decisions, that doesn’t exist. It never will but that’s the road everyone wants to go.”

Postecoglou did not criticise the actual decisions that were made on Monday -- and the majority of pundits said that the VAR interventions provided the right decisions, including a bizarre triple VAR check which first disallowed a Chelsea goal then awarded them a penalty for a foul by Cristian Romero which meant the Argentine defender was shown a straight red card.

But he is worried about the time it took to make them and the erosion of the referee’s power. Meanwhile, fans inside the stadium, without seeing monitors, are left in the dark about what is happening in front of them.

“If people are going to forensically scrutinise everything to make sure that they’re comfortable that it’s right and even at the end of that we’re still not happy,” he said.

“So what does that mean? It means that we’re going to see a lot of standing around.”

As another round of Premier League fixtures looms one thing is certain, VAR will again cause angst at the weekend as decisions are scrutinised to death.

“It’s self-inflicted because we all complain about decisions every week. We’ve been complaining about decisions,” Postecoglou said. “I’ve been doing this for 26 years and I’ve heard managers, me included, complaining about decisions in the past, but we’ve got on with it.

“We didn’t feel the need to find some miracle cure for it.”

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