Fighting a Three Front VAR

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Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Dom Le Roy

Well, you can never say Spurs don’t make things interesting. So the FA wants to institute VAR and do away with FA Cup replays? Really? Maybe they might reconsider?

Fernando Llorente and all that snow erased all the fury and frustration of one of the most bizarre halfs of football I have ever witnessed. On to Swansea and then, so long as we don’t lose, either two or three games at our home ground for the trophy. And no City standing in our way. Maybe this Snow Event will stand as rather extraordinary memory on the path to Poch’s first silverware. Or maybe it will be the night that VAR died—we can only hope.

So let’s start there. It is less that they got it wrong—by my count at least two of the four big decisions that caused the long delays—than that, as US NFL fans can attest (and our game is full of starts and stops anyway), they kill the game. Kill the pace. Kill the mood. Kill the experience. Warren Barton on Fox Soccer said it right “we don’t want to watch the referee. We want to watch the players”. And, as the replay experience has also become in American sports, it can easily lead to referees being afraid to make decisions, for fear of being overturned by the VAR, which means it is more likely the VAR has to be used, and on and on.

Llorente did not commit a foul. The foul on Moura a few minutes later, while it might have been a soft penalty, was much more blatant than whatever the Spaniard did or didn’t do. The decision on Trippier was correct and the one smart VAR action of the first half. And as for Son (just kick the ball next time, man—if there is a next time) I’m not sure what I think other than the entire affair had descended Into farce by then. But it’s simply a bad system. Whatever might be gained by “getting it right” will be lost by the delays, the confusion, and the effect it has on the referees and the integrity of the game itself.

As for Spurs, well Moura was a pretty clear MOTM- when it still mattered. Llorente was having a typically poor evening until, as a mate of mine in Sunderland cracked, he finally “found his level’. But good for him to get all those goals. Son didn’t deserve the other two—would rather they had gone to Lamela who actually played hard and well most of the night. Winks has become some other player than the one we started getting excited about last season—he has no confidence and his decision-making is consistently poor. Rose, Sissoko and Trippier were fine. Nice to see Walker-Peters get a reward at the death. And I would bet that we won’t see the Dier-Foyth combination against Swansea, in any circumstances, even if the two Belgians are still out. But maybe it was the snow and the weirdness of this night.

By an hour the game was over and the VAR insanity was fading into white. But surely there’s a better way. I’ll take another strange pro-Arsenal offside or penalty decision at the death once or twice a year compared to nights like this.

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Paul is a respected U.S. political pollster (Democrat) based in Madison, Wisconsin and Los Angeles. His love for Spurs began when the Premier League games started appearing regularly in the U.S. and an American lover of football had to choose a side. Bale, Rushdie, Adele, Shakespeare, the Spurs faithful, The Lane, etc. were all irresistible attractions and have made Maslin a Spur for life.

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