Tag Archives: Premier League

Season of VAR howlers

After a season that has taken virtually a year to complete, the major talking point once again has been VAR.

Unfortunately, yet another season has passed us by with more controversy on the use of the system.

When VAR was first introduced, the idea was it would stop debate and get decisions correct. Unfortunately, since its introduction into the game it is still causing disagreement in the football world.

This season in particular there have been some absolutely shocking decisions that have been an embarrassment to the beautiful game.

Back in November there were no less than four instances of the worst possible outcome of the VAR system getting decisions wrong.

On New Years Day more embarrassment when Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish headed home after eleven minutes, but the goal was ruled out as it was deemed offside due to a striker’s heel millimetres ahead of James Tarkowski.

There has also been a huge amount of goals that have been ruled out for handball. Now if it is an obvious hand ball then fair call it should be ruled out. But what we have had constantly this campaign has been instances of players virtually struggling to get their hand or other parts of their anatomy out of the way.

The essence of the problem with VAR centres around two main points. Handball situations and offside.

We have had the most astonishing decisions go against the attacking side when it comes to offside or not. In most cases it has been not a foot but a hand or even a length of hair.

In my opinion then surely, you are either offside or not. The attacking player should always be given the benefit of the doubt.

There is also the famous line that gets trotted out week in and week out- “Clear and obvious”.

Throw in the amount of time that it is taking in most VAR decisions and you can see why most football fans- me including- are totally against this system.

It is clearly not working, but it is looking more and more likely that it will be here to stay.

If there are some positives to come out of the use of VAR, it is that on some occasions it has got decisions correct. In most of these it has been on margins of a very fine line. So that is something positive to come out of the technology and system used.

The system could easily be improved by this formula, which would eliminate mistakes by the VAR officials watching back at Stokley Park.

If Var has to be called on, then let the on-field referee go straight to the monitor and let him decide what the eventual decision should be. He can get help from the VAR officials, but the final decision should lay in the hands of the match referee on the field of play.

Yes, he may get the odd decision wrong but surely, he is the man in the middle who should decide on the eventual outcome. This has got to be better than waiting for a long time before somebody hundreds of miles away decides on a decision, which in most cases is totally wrong.

Otherwise what is the point of having a monitor which is rarely used. It makes sense to use it. Falling that lets just scrap VAR for good, this would be the simplest solution but because the system won’t get discarded, then let’s get the main official involved.

The wonderful game of football is for the fans. They want to see free flowing games of 90 minutes, not endless waiting on VAR decisions which interrupt the flow of the game.

For the sake of football, if we are going to continue with VAR then let us please use it to its proper use, or simply change the laws of the game. By doing so it would stop issues of handball and clear and obvious and would make watching of the sport back to what it used to be like. Plain and simple and easy to understand.

Shortest turnaround in football history, but are players benefiting from this?

It is already looking like we could be set for the shortest season ever in football history.

When you consider we had to wait patiently for 100 days before we saw a ball kicked, we are now seeing matches played almost every day.

There are likely to be seven weeks between the end of this Premier League season and the start of the next one. In that time there will be only eight days without games in eight selected tournaments.

The Premier League will finish this weekend, with the Championship play-off semi-final matches being played later that week.

The FA Cup final is on the 1st August, which remarkably will be on the same day as the 2020-21 Scottish Premiership begins. It seems like only yesterday that their season re commenced. Wow doesn’t time fly in football!

The Championship play-off final is on the 4th August with Europa League last 16 ties resuming 24 hours later.

Manchester City and Chelsea play their Champions League last 16 second legs on the following two days. The Champions League final will be held on the 23rd August.

Now, who remembers the Nations League? Yes, I thought so, well the good news is it is back again, 11 days after the Champions League final.

The Premier League is, meanwhile, reportedly due to start on the 12th September.

This is great news for the fans watching but surely not for the players. Premier League and Championship players have been forced to return back.  After the restart there were genuine fears for fitness levels of players having to perform for their clubs in such a short tight schedule.

When the Bundesliga returned fitness levels of players was under question. Admittedly, after the first few weeks of the restart few players were getting injured or suffering cramp. The real test was to come when the Premiership restarted on the 20th June.

In terms of the fitness levels of players involved in the Premier League and Championship it has to be said it has been encouraging, with few major worries.

However, having to cram so many games into such a short space of time before a break of a few weeks before next season will hit us. I am sure this won’t benefit anybody at all.

To ask players at any level to play almost a whole year with just a few weeks break will inevitably mean more injuries next season.

Players welfare has to be taken very seriously indeed, otherwise we are going to lose a crop of outstanding young talent along with the cream of the league to the treatment tables and players will get burned out and lose their appetite for the game. This certainly would not be good for football.

Should ex-pros help out VAR officiating?

VAR,  not for the first time this season, once again appeared in the spot light  following more controversy surrounding no less than three different incidents this week.

Incorrect penalty decisions were made by the video assistant referee in all three of Thursday’s Premier League games.

Tottenham should have had a penalty when Joshua King clearly shoved Harry Kane in the back, in their goalless draw with Bournemouth.

Bruno Fernandes won a spot kick, which should not have been given against Aston Villa.

James Ward-Prowse hit the bar after being awarded a disputed penalty against Everton.

With so many talking points raised about VAR, there has been a suggestion by former footballer Tim Cahill, than an ex-player should be involved to work alongside the VAR officials at Stockley Park.

Going forward, it would appear to make sense that somebody who has played the game professionally, and knows how players react in circumstances during a game, would know more than a referee, who in most cases would never have played the game before.

The only downside to this in my opinion would be would the VAR officials listen to what that person would have to say, take on board and put into practice.

Overall, on debatable decisions I am sure they would like some impact from the ex pro, but I fear that the final say on the decision would be down to the VAR official.

I am still unconvinced that they would generally be swayed by expert advice from somebody who has played and understands the game more.

It hurts me to say that I genuinely believe quite a few referees don’t know the game of football. It is not just about knowing the laws of football; it is also about knowing the game.

To simplify and eradicate even more controversy going forward, surely the on field official should be allowed to go and check the pitch side monitor, and then make his own decision.

All too often the man in the middle never goes ahead and puts this into practice. It is the VAR crew who in turn make their own decision, therefore undermining the person who is supposed to be referring the game.

My own solution to this mess would be simple really.

When an incident should be reviewed, let VAR tell the on field official how they see it.

The referee should then go straight to the pitch side monitor to make up his own mind and then decide what decision to go with.

The referee who is officiating the actual game must be the sole person in charge of events on and off the field, in my opinion.

Currently, it is a case of somebody many miles away making decisions that really should be made closer to home.

Vardy hits 100, But should Leicester be worried?

Jamie Vardy was back in the goals in usual fashion as the foxes comfortably dispatched Crystal Palace 3-0. However the fact this result was somewhat of a surprise represents the poor form Leicester have been in since the turn of the year.

Before the Palace game, Vardy had been on a barren run in front of goal and the race for top 4 was seemingly ready to kick Leicester out. So can they keep this run of form or is it just a rare win? Let’s take a look:

The pessimist and optimist view

Their start of season form saw them compete with Liverpool for the title but a huge drop off since then has seen them come within only 3 points of dropping out the top 4 entirely.

So should their fans be concerned? Yes, it was a convincing win but it bucks a trend of poor performances. Their restart began with 2 losses and 2 draws – scoring only two goals in the process and being knocked out of the FA cup.

A common critique of this Leicester side is where the goals would come from should Vardy lose his form, and that has been shown with their recent form. This included being knocked out of the EFL cup semi-finals by strugglers Aston Villa, and a February month with no wins from 4 matches – only scoring two goals and losing to bottom club Norwich.

Looking at them in the Premier League form table since matchday 20 until now they sit in 9th, whereas the teams they are competing with all sit in the top 6, so if they are to retain their position they could do well with picking up some form.

Vardy was struggling with form during this period and results reflected that. It’s no coincidence that they won this game comfortably with him scoring. Whether Leicester can pick up some form depends highly on their star man performing, which really shows just how good Vardy is.

Whilst this all stacks up as just a buck in the trend, those results have a history of kickstarting a season again. When a team goes through a rough patch, a win can completely change the mentality. Just look at Arsenal in the last few games.

So whilst you could say their overall form hasn’t shown the consistency needed, maybe this result was what the club needed to get that going again – you don’t become a bad team overnight after all.

A Fairytale story

Let’s forget the slightly pessimistic view for a second and appreciate the story of Jamie Vardy. He made his Premier League debut at 27 years of age and has flow into a prestigious 100 club.

Considering the relatively short amount of time he has spent in the top flight the company he holds now in Thierry Henry, Didier Drogba, Wayne Rooney, Alan Shearer and many more is remarkable.

His rise to prominence of course came when Leicester won their unbelievable Premier League trophy; with him, Mahrez and Kante being highlighted as key players.

He was even linked with Arsenal once the season had ended, but many brushed him off as a one season wonder. Despite his amazing goal record you could be forgiven for thinking he was a one season wonder.

He still remains quite the underrated striker, with many people talking about Aguero, Aubameyang, Rashford, etc.

Taking a look at his goal record you can see he has consistently been up there with the best strikers in the league:

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Yet we don’t always here the same praise for him as we do for the other top strikers in the league. Maybe the unfashionable name and controversy with his wife has had some form of subconscious effect.

Whether he is talked about or not, the fact of the matter remains that he is Leicester’s key man, and if he can pick up the goals again, the golden boot and Champions League football could be on the way to the King Power.

We had a chat with FoxesFancast about Leicester’s season and form since the restart. The interview also features the fans relationship with the owners and the future.  

Full video here:

 

Starlet Jones Signs Long-Term Contract With Liverpool

Champions Liverpool received a timely boost on Saturday evening with the announcement that youngster Curtis Jones had put pen to paper on a new five year contract to remain on Merseyside for the foreseeable future.

The 19 year old, who became Liverpool’s youngest ever captain when he donned the armband for the FA Cup replay victory over Shrewsbury, had signed a new deal in August, but was rewarded for his performances this season with a bumper extension at the weekend.

It has been a breakthrough campaign for the Scouser, who has been at the club since the age of eight and worked his way through the various youth ranks to the first team. He made his Premier League debut against Bournemouth in December before scoring his first goal for the Reds, a stunning long range winner against Everton in the FA Cup in January.

He continues to shine at youth level also, netting nine goals and contributing five assists in 14 appearances in the Premier League 2 and scoring five in four games in the UEFA Youth League, including his superb hat-trick against Napoli.

Jürgen Klopp has huge faith in Jones, a centre midfielder by trade who can also play on the left or in a more advanced attacking role. He sees him as a direct replacement for the outgoing Adam Lallana, who will leave Merseyside once the current Premier League campaign ends.

Klopp and his staff and have been impressed with Jones’ showings this year and were keen to tie down his long term future at the club as they already look ahead to next campaign and the challenge of retaining their Premier League.

Upon signing his new deal, Jones told Liverpool’s official site, “For me, as everyone knows, it’s massive. It’s my boyhood club and it’s the whole of my family’s club as well, so for me it’s huge.

“I think the environment is all positive and keeps me as positive as I can. Of course, we’re working with a great manager and around the best team in the world, so for me it was easy and I’m extremely proud.”