The game that went unnoticed

I set off for Anfield to watch a game of football. It would be disingenuous of me to say I didn’t want my team to win, but I can say with a fair degree of certainty that defeat would not leave me crestfallen.That said, I was up and cheering Firmino’s early goal and likewise cheering the team on as they were striving for a late equaliser. And for sure, if they were ever to reach the final, I’d be more than delirious at the thought of lifting the trophy.However, as I walked down Arkles Lane afterwards, very little talk was about the game. It was all to do with VAR (Video Assistant Referee) with a consensus that anything between 5 to 6 minutes was lost to the referee having to (opting to) reach the perfect decision.There were two first half substitutes as well as similar delays due to trainer repairs, yet the referee signalled a mere four added minutes.I was told (and perhaps readers might help out on this) that ‘Monday Night Football’ suggested the watch is not stopped for VAR. Really? Is that true?If it is, it means that every time the referee takes the longest route, the time lost to those who pay would be anything up to five minutes. Potentially how many times in any one game is that?Interestingly, the third WBA goal was right in front of me and I thought it was well offside as did most people around me. The anger was palpable and I felt it was crowd anxiety as much as anything which brought about the decision to revert to technology.When I got home and saw it on MOTD, I’d reckon it took me all of ten seconds to regard the linesman’s call as a good one. So please tell me why the best part of two minutes was needed for ratification? As for the penalty decision, the elongated break in play served only to affect negatively the game of football, create crowd ridicule and increase player frustration.As for the penalty decision it took all of three whole minutes to determine that Salah had been tugged. Yes, you could argue that getting the right decision justified the wait and, to be fair to Referee Pawson, the use of VAR did achieve that. In real time, only two of the three calls would have been correct. The disallowed goal was an interesting one. The common acceptance seems to be that the header was chalked off for offside, but why did Pawson asked for a check in the first place? There were three clear infringements from that corner; the scorer climbing on Firmino; Barry physically preventing Mignolet from advancing; offside. Nowhere has there been an announcement as to which of the three was instrumental in the reversal but most crucially of all, without the VAR, the goal would have stood. The crowd once again were screaming, but it certainly wasn’t for offside; instead for Barry blocking Mignolet repeatedly. So, I’d maintain that’s twice that crowd pressure created the doubt. Spectators are not fools, but referees are well aware that the Anfield crowd in particular is a very observant and indeed a very fair bunch.During the half time interval, there were also plenty of tongue in cheek observations doing the rounds which ultimately were to prove spot on.“There’ll be no more referrals after that,” went the banter, on the basis that the referee probably felt something of a stooge in the name of progress. There were three legitimate calls for penalties at the Kop end , but whether or not he got a call from the FA man in the remote studio, Pawson was emphatic about rejecting every one in a way which suggested he wasn’t going down the technology route again.I believe overall, it will seem like sour grapes that the repeated lengthy breaks in play could be deemed the cause of a woeful performance by the Reds, who never really came alive until the introduction of Hendo in particular. However, it can hardly have helped either side. It probably wouldn’t have mattered in some other countries where the pace of the game is more than sedate compared with the Premier League, but I certainly hate to think how VAR would have impacted on the wonderful spectacle that was the Man City game a couple of weeks earlier.And therein lies the rub!FYI: I timed the aggregate VAR delays at over 5 minutes based on the full match video on LFCTV. Interesting that, at the time, it all seemed far longer than that!

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