Steven Gerrard, who has historically opposed the introduction of VAR on moral grounds in Scottish football, has possibly changed his mind following the League Cup final farce and the goal that wasn’t at Parkhead.
Rangers’ manager has been pretty outspoken about how he feels it disrupts the flow of the game, and in defence of him, he hasn’t exactly changed his tune on that:
“I am not a fan of VAR changing the game in terms of being stop/start and slowing the game down and ruining celebrations and the natural side of the game we all love.”
And he’s right to a degree – seeing a player celebrate a goal only to have the ref flag a contention then review via VAR does disrupt things a lot, and gets ‘in the way’. But clearly events at Hampden and what happened, irrelevantly mind you, at Parkhead, have influenced his thinking more now, and he sees its place:
“But I think the vital decisions, the big decisions, that can change the outcome of the game across the board, I think it certainly has to be discussed.”
Yes, it does. Now of course this technically is a bit of a contradiction, because any decision in a football match can change the outcome – that’s why it’s a sport; any event on that pitch has an influence on the final result.
But getting away from semantics, while he has a small point about ruining celebrations, equally we could argue that there’s nothing worse in football than celebrating a goal and it being ruled offside, correctly or not. And that’s a very similar feeling, perhaps a worse one, than celebrating a goal, then learning it’s gone to review. At least with review there’s a strong chance the goal will stand. Without, it’s ruled out, period.
We do understand the stop start brigade’s objections to VAR, but the ‘controversies’ in the headlines over VAR decisions are simply because there was one, a decision, rather than because the decision was wrong.
Recently the Snodgrass goal for West Ham was ruled out over a technicality of a handball, and whether punters like Jamie Carragher like it or not, this was correct. The whine seems to be that the system picked up such a small offence, an unintentional one – whereas before, the problem was how the goal should never have stood because of that handball.
Now people like Carragher are whining because the correct decision was arrived at – albeit the pundit admits it’s the law itself that’s wrong, not the VAR ruling.
Declan Rice, of West Ham, of course, says players don’t want it. Well, they do when it’s a decision which goes for them. Nothing but sour grapes there.
And Steven Gerrard, going in the same direction – didn’t want it, till he lost out on a decision which VAR would have helped.
End of the day, justice should be done and the right decision reached, if the technology is there to allow that. It is now, and it should.
Even if it disrupts things a bit.