Human involvement letting down VAR!

7th Sept 2023

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More VAR controversy

Perhaps we are five, ten or even 20 years away from it but one has to wonder when AI will make its lasting presence in football? How can AI help? Apart from being able to figure out which young players are coming through on the worldwide market and which players would be best suited to teams depending on manager and tactics there is obviously sports science. AI will be groundbreaking in that field. However one has to wonder how long humans will be involved in making decisions. 

Before VAR we had some terrible decisions on offsides and disallowed goals. Indeed as recent as the 2010 World Cup no less Frank Lampard had a perfectly good goal ruled out when England played Germany. VAR would have easily rectified that decision. It makes sense that VAR has come in and made the game better, more precise, or has it? Weekends seem to be filled up with news stories more about the controversies of VAR and less about the quality of the football. With the technology available VAR shouldn't be making so many glaring errors. Already this season we have seen a stone wall penalty for Wolves denied against Manchester United with the score at 1-0 to United. We have seen two incidents at this past weekend's game between Arsenal and Manchester United. Manchester City may well have still crushed Fulham at the weekend but their goal to go 2-1 up was offside but was allowed to stand. City boast the quality of course but there is no doubt that the 2nd goal for City also changed the course of the game. The week before Alexis Mac Allister should not have been sent off. These are big decisions in the biggest and most successful league in world football. So what is the problem? Let's look at what VAR means- video assistant referee which means that humans are still involved in the final decision process. We have simply shifted the human on field error to the human off the site error. Tech can flag the problem but humans can still override and it seems to be a grave problem. Of course when your club isn't affected it is easy to point out that VAR is making the game better, that isn't the case once your club is negatively affected. 

Maybe we need to be honest with ourselves- human judgement making is simply not good enough in sports, albeit it isn't very difficult in most cases in general life. Even if VAR gets 99% of decisions correct that still isn't going to be good enough, is the system better than what we had before? Yes it is but that is undermined by the fact that errors still occur and this is after stopping the game for several minutes, having different camera angles, discussing back and forth with the referee and so on. In this case VAR is NOT a success. If we are to slow down the game and check tight calls then the right call HAS to be made and maybe just maybe too many bad calls will be made when we will have little choice but to turn to tech fully.


Pickford saves Everton once more

Jordan Pickford has got Everton out of trouble on many occasions and without him the club would have been relegated by now. Pickford is a world class goalkeeper and a fantastic character to have in the dressing room. Everton are lucky to have him and they should be thankful to the Brazil national team who have developed the likes of Alisson and Ederson who occupy the goalposts for Liverpool and Manchester City respectively. Take one of them out and those clubs would surely be circling for Pickford. The Everton shot stopper proved his quality yet again at the weekend as he stopped a certain Sheffield United goal which would have seen the Toffees open their account with four straight defeats. There was some talk in the summer that Pickford might leave and after the departures of Anthony Gordon and Richarlison that would have been the final blow for the club. With Pickford Everton have a chance this season to stay up.

To be relegated: Luton 1.20, Sheffield United 1.44, Everton 2.50, Bournemouth 3.75, Wolves 4.00


Chelsea struggles

Is there a curse at Chelsea? This isn't to take anything away from Nottingham Forest's 1-0 victory at Stamford Bridge at the weekend but we are talking about a club who have spent over £400m this summer. Chelsea under owner Todd Boehly have spent £1 billion in three windows, so when the club loses games it is going to be highlighted. When the club loses games at home it is going to be highlighted and underlined and when the club have 4 points from four games and are in 12th place and already 8 points behind the league leaders, excuse anyone if they think they are being short changed! This is poor from Chelsea, it is poor from the owner who throws money at a problem but seemingly does not understand the game and it is poor from Mauricio Pochettino a manager who has not looked world class for a good few years. It is of course early days, but there was a worrying scene last week when Chelsea won their only league game so far in beating relegation favourites Luton at home. It was a celebration of genuine joy against a club who will perhaps be the poorest in the league this season. It is correct therefore to criticise the club who pound for pound look like bizarrely the weakest team in the Premier League.

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