Ajax’s tremendous performance in the Bernabeu last night is in danger of being forgotten in the faux controversy over VAR. And it is a faux controversy. Whether you like it or not, VAR is here to stay; too many reputations and too much investment
It took five minutes from Tadic’s excellent finish to the game restarting. That decision should only take thirty seconds. Even at first glance, the replays from the usual angle were useless; the second angle was no better so that is sixty seconds at worst.
What was immediately apparent was the unobscured view of the lino and he didn’t flag. It was such a simple thing to resolve and very quickly. One view of the replay showed the angle was wrong; the second replay similarly so. A quick chat with lino; bang, solved. Under a minute.
In reality, the officials in the booth are too beholden to technology and lost sight of the match. Was there too much pressure for them to handle because the angles were inconclusive? That is the biggest hurdle VAR must overcome; technology cannot make every decision; football’s authorities must focus on the quality of the VAR officials as much as camera angles.
The delicious moment was Real Madrid trying to influence the decision by lining up to take the throw-in. “Did the ball go out of play? You know, these Real Madrid players are ready to restart with a throw and in their own ground, I’m inclined…” as it happened “to tell them to do one; GOAL!”
Real’s performance was the second half of Solari’s resignation letter. If defeat to Barcelona was the first page, this was him writing the second page in green ink in a spiral.
Call The Witchfinder General!
Once again, however, we’re talking about officials. The adage of a good referee not being noticed is going further by the wayside with every passing season. From prima donnas to incompetents, referees are becoming too much of the focus.
If they are so pre-eminent, we should hear from them post-match to know why decisions were taken. It doesn’t change the situation but it explains actions. “So, Mr Taylor, the encroachment in the area…”; “And you say you saw this stamp, so why was it unpunished?”
Were their predecessors stronger-minded? Would Anthony Taylor award a penalty 90 seconds into a World Cup final against the host nation? His lily-livered display at Wembley shows otherwise. Not that his colleagues are any better.
But that’s a big decision; it’s the little ones they get so horribly wrong which are more worrying. Standards are dropping and the Premier League shows no inclination to improve them. Managers and players find themselves obliged to talk to the press but match officials get off scot-free. Yet the authorities can control a referee’s press conference, including the manner in which questions are asked: it’s win-win if handled correctly. However, that’s a caveat too far.
They won’t because there is too much danger of referees being undermined. “REFEREE ADMITS MISTAKE BUT HE’S STILL A WITCH! BURN HIM!” is the doomsday scenario they fear.
Beyond the initial field day when referees starting talking to the press, officials will get an easy ride. And if forces them to up their game, football wins. If they can’t hack it and take the spinelessness elsewhere, football wins.
There won’t be a shortage of match officials for the professional game. Equate their pay to a manager and watch people flock to qualify, ready to be told that we wished they would “flock off”.
More Behind The Scenes Changes
The turnover of staff on the footballing side continues unabated. Gilles Grimandi, a double-winner in 1998, is joining OGC Nice as technical director and reuniting with Patrick Vieira. The news was greeted with the usual salvo of disrespect on social media. Always good to see a former player being told to “F*ck off” first thing in the morning.
There’s a feeling that this will continue well into the new technical director’s reign at the club. That’s gone quiet, hasn’t it? Monchi versus Overmars died a quick death on the back pages with the Spaniard seemingly the man. No sign of an announcement, much to the disappointment of a host of magicians who specialise in tricks involving plastic chambers and dry ice.
The squad is on its way to Rennes for tomorrow’s first leg with Unai Emery and some poor sap being dragged in front of the media. It’s 15 – 20 minutes of their lives they will never get back. Still, we’ll know one of the XI who is playing. Swings and roundabouts, etc.