Klopp, Guardiola not happy with VAR

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The video assistant referee (VAR) system was back in the spotlight on Sunday after drawing the ire of both managers in Liverpool’s 1-0 Premier League win over Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Sadio Mane’s goal restored Liverpool’s 13-point lead over Leicester City at the top of the table but it was only confirmed after a lengthy VAR review to check for a possible handball by Adam Lallana in the build-up.

“We’re in December and coming into January. Players standing around that long is not good,” Liverpool boss Juergen Klopp said. “I’d prefer if referees went to the screen because it’s directly next to us and never used, I don’t know exactly why.

“If it’s a tight offside with a small margin … then I can understand it, but with the possible handball, I don’t understand it.

“It would have gone quicker (by going to the screen), but that’s how we do it in England and we cannot change that.”

Wolves were then denied an equaliser by VAR, another decision that came after a long delay.

Wolves coach Nuno Espirito Santo, who was booked for protesting the disallowed goal, said he was not a fan of VAR decisions being taken miles away from where matches are being played.

The VAR decisions are made at a hub in Stockley Park, south West London.

“I don’t like it,” he added. “A referee in that situation doesn’t feel the game like someone present at the match. It’s not for me to say how things can be improved, but I think it’s a pity.”

Liverpool next play Sheffield United on Thursday while Wolves visit second-from-bottom Watford a day earlier.

Pep calls VAR a ‘big mess’

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola declared the VAR video review system a “big mess” on Sunday after a weekend which saw a series of controversial decisions from the system.

VAR was introduced in the Premier League for the first time this season and there is no sign of the controversies dying down nor of fans warming to the use of the technology.

“Every weekend is a big mess. In other games, it was a big mess. Hopefully next season, it can do better,” said Guardiola after City’s 2-0 win over Sheffield United on Sunday.

It was one of several games which saw a goal overruled for the most marginal of offside calls, after VAR’s geometrical lines had been used to deliver a time-consuming verdict.

The Yorkshire side looked to have grabbed the lead through Lys Mousett in the 28th minute but the goal was ruled out after a VAR review found the slimmest of margins for offside.

Moments after the incident, both sets of supporters expressed their opposition to VAR in a loud, united chant, while United fans also adopted the ‘It’s not football any more’ anthem that has become a familiar refrain at various games.

United manager Chris Wilder noted Norwich City forward Teemu Pukki had a similar goal ruled out for a fractional offside decision in their 2-2 draw with Tottenham on Saturday and said there had been “eight or nine” incidents over the weekend.

“There’s no conclusivie evidence, blurred lines and angles. There needs to be a more clear way of defining it,” he said.

Asked about the City fans joining in with the visitors in expressing strong opposition to VAR, Wilder said he was not surprised.

“Up and down the country, all the people at Norwich, a four-letter word about VAR, these are proper football people,” he said.

Asked whether the system needed to be reformed or fully scrapped, Wilder said: “Its not my decision, it has to improve. Yet again, it’s the first question, eight or nine goals knocked off.

“Where there’s so much debate on every goal, it will be analysed yet again. I just don’t think it’s been refined enough to make a difference.”

He was also upset about City’s first goal where referee Chris Kavanagh appeared to obstruct United defenders before Kevin De Bruyne found Sergio Aguero for the opener.

“I’ve been to see the referee and he has been honest about it. We make mistakes and I believe he made one too,” said Wilder.

“We talk about the new rule where if the referee touches the ball then he has to blow up. So surely if he is in the way and hinders us, then he makes a sensible decision.

“If he made the sensible decision then I don’t think anyone in the ground would have said anything about it.”

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