ONLY two weeks in and the blame game has started.
VAR, it seems, has been judged: Guilty, as charged.
How dare one referee, sitting in a booth near Heathrow, determine the outcome of a match?
Why is he allowed to rule out goals that would have stood last season?
And who decided the joy of a goal, should be destroyed in the quest for a ‘correct’ decision?
That VAR has already changed football is unquestioned.
But it was always going to and it was always supposed to.
The advent of the Premier League, the number of cameras present to record every incident from 10 angles, and the tribal instincts that turn every marginal call into a “conspiracy” brought us to this point.
Managers who refused to accept errors were part of the game are now refuting the evidence they were calling for.
Players, too. Their dissent and downright cheating all helped bring about the change.
A media, especially the broadcast media, who revelled in castigating officials at every opportunity. And, of course, the fans. The ones who branded every call they did not like part of a ‘vendetta’ against them.
We are all responsible for this. Now we have to reap what we have sown — because there is no going back.
ONE IN FIVE BIG CALLS WERE ERRORS
Refs’ chief Mike Riley revealed in May that only 82 per cent of ‘key match incidents’ in the Prem last season were correct — meaning one in five big calls were an error.
With small fortunes on the line, anything that reduces those errors must be good.
VAR will not end mistakes. As it will not end controversy.
But the clubs wanted it. Called for it.
And part of that were the demands of the TV companies. VAR makes the viewer even more part of the immersive experience — especially in the knowledge that the fan watching from his sofa has far more insight into what is going on than those in the ground.
That is even more the case when a review is ongoing, opening the argument for the big screens to state ‘potential handball’ or ‘possible offside’ to inform stadium fans more clearly.
Of course, there are still issues.
Not for the handballs that saw Wolves and Manchester City denied “winners” over the first two weeks of the season.
The new law may be flawed but VAR has a duty to impose it.
Yet even the most advanced technology cannot always determine the precise instant the ball is played forward, meaning that, on a handful of occasions, an onside player might be deemed offside when the VAR “line” is drawn.
The clubs, though, accepted that would be the case when they approved the technology.
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Once again, the prism of club loyalty trumps everything. Things are only acceptable when they go your way.
But it was the constant, unending gripes, the moaning and groaning, that brought us here.
And, surely, it is better to wait a minute or two and get a correct decision than spend the next nine months suffering from the consequences of a bad one.
This post written by Martin Lipton originally appeared on Football news - transfers, fixtures, scores, pictures | The Sun. Read the full post here.