Neil Mellor was left gobsmacked by one incident from Liverpool’s 3-0 win at home to Brentford on Sunday.
The visitors pleaded for a red card to be shown to Wataru Endo for his challenge on Christian Norgaard, but their cries were in vain as Paul Tierney didn’t even reach into his pocket for a yellow.
Nonetheless, the tackle was subjected to lengthy scrutiny from VAR before the referee’s on-field decision was preserved, and the LFC TV pundit simply couldn’t believe how much time was taken in reviewing the incident.
Taking to X with a screenshot of the challenge, Mellor posted: “13 times!! VAR looked at this tackle 13 times. I thought VAR was there to help officials instantly see what was missed on the pitch (even though he was 2 yards away). Watching it that many times shows it wasn’t a clear and obvious error and just meant an unnecessary delay.”
13 times!! VAR looked at this tackle 13 times. I thought VAR was there to help officials instantly see what was missed on the pitch (even tho he was 2 yards away). Watching it that many times shows it wasn’t a clear and obvious error and just meant an unnecessary delay. #var pic.twitter.com/ITz9DobLMd
— Neil Mellor (@NeilMellor33) November 13, 2023
Mellor hits the nail on the head by reminding us all that the original purpose of VAR when it was introduced to football was to eradicate clear and obvious errors, not to scrutinise several incidents per game to a forensic degree.
Endo’s challenge might’ve seemed rash on initial viewing but replays showed that it certainly wasn’t endangering Norgaard, and that viewpoint was also voiced by former Premier League referee Dermot Gallagher on Sky Sports’ Ref Watch on Monday morning.
If a refereeing mistake fits the description of ‘clear and obvious’, VAR could reasonably be expected to pick up on it inside 40-45 seconds, so any reviews which go on for longer than a minute waive the right to be classified as blatant errors.
While the officials came to the right decision regarding that incident yesterday, it’s hard to blame Mellor for calling out the unnecessary length of time it took for the review to be completed.
These needlessly lengthy delays, which are routine in Premier League matches, antagonise not just fans of the clubs involved but also irritate neutral viewers. Also, as Roberto De Zerbi pointed out over the weekend, there are numerous instances where still the final call leaves players, managers and supporters baffled.
Most people watching at home could see almost straight away that Endo’s challenge wasn’t a red card offence, so you’d have to wonder why the VAR officials took as long as they did to let the match continue.
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