Well it was going to happen wasn’t it. Two games in and we are already talking about VAR.
As expected the introduction of the video technology has been a major talking point in the first few weeks of the new season.
Changes to the laws have also been entwined in the debate.
VAR reviews have been in use at both Brighton and Hove Albion’s opening games. A penalty was declined as the ball flew at Glenn Murray at Watford and Leandro Trossard was denied a goal in the first half against West Ham. Of course VAR is in use at all games all of the time and in that respect therein lies the problem.
Many of us in the press and supporters in the stands are not totally sure what is happening. Without getting into the intricacies of the system and incidents so far here are some initial thoughts. Some time ago I interviewed George Burley who was then manager of this weekend’s opponents Southampton about goal-line technology. Over a decade ago Burley said we have the technology so let’s do it.
Goal-line reviews were as far as he wanted to go though as he felt the game would be spoilt by in-game interference. It was one of the few things we agreed on.
Saying that, VAR is here and is being used. There can be no doubt it is strangling the celebrations from the supporters as they know there is a chance any joy may swiftly change to frustration.
One problem for the fans in the stadium is the communication about what is happening but also the time it takes. It has to, and I’m sure will, get better.
What we don’t see however, is the countless incidents that are reviewed but ignored as the game continues. I would argue we don’t want them to be reviewed but that in a sense is by the by.
This week the man in charge of implementing the VAR system Neil Swarbrick gave his early comments and took supporter’s questions. It was brave to expose himself so early in its use but he made some very valid points.
The system is in its infancy and will get better. There haven’t been that many contentious issues so far.
Most, probably all if you are not a Man City fan, have been right, according to the laws of the game. He reminded us that cricket and rugby took several years to iron out any issues and enhance the experience of the fans in the stadium.
He didn’t discount a change to allow us all to hear the discussion between the official in the future. Swarbrick added that IFAB make the laws of the game and he can’t change that.
He reiterated that the Premier League clubs voted for the introduction of VAR after decades of complaints by managers over certain decisions. All in all he calmly gave a reasoned argument to bear with the system and give it a chance. I personally feel that the game would still be better without it.
Will it remain long-term? I don’t know but I am willing to give it a chance and be converted.