Pundit Panel on VAR: Positives, negatives and much more from the Soccer Saturday pundits

The pundits deliver their verdict on VAR in the Premier League
The pundits deliver their verdict on VAR in the Premier League

Phil Thompson, Matt Le Tissier and Charlie Nicholas deliver their verdicts on how VAR is performing in the Premier League so far.

The Sky Sports Soccer Saturday pundits may all be in agreement of the ridiculous nature of the handball rule, but what are their opinions on the system that has already had such an influence in so many games?


Phil Thompson

"At first, I was totally against it. Our game has survived for as long as I have known it, with debate being created off the back of decisions. I thought it would clear up all the doubts we have about the game, and I thought it would be black and white.

"Lo and behold I am totally confused. I would certainly just have liked it to really ‘wow’ me, so I am probably 50/50 about it at this moment in time. I have to be open minded in order to give it a go. Although we can moan about an offside decision, with the TV now it's clear to spot, even if it is just by a millimetre.

"These handball situations have left me totally bemused by the game. I did not get the Wolves one against Leicester and I still do not like it. To me it is never a handball. Then you have the Manchester City one. On the one hand if the ball accidentally hits a defender’s hand in the penalty area it is not a penalty, but it if hits the attacker's arm it's a free kick. It is totally confusing.

"The offside rule is more definitive, which most of the time should clear things up. Even then though, you have the phases of play which can confuse matters. They can show an incident of offside and say it was on the first phase and this player or that player doesn’t touch it. Then they become involved with the second phase which makes them offside. Again, it's confusing for those watching.

"This handball rule though is the one that has to be refined. For me, VAR is not working at the moment - I thought bringing it in would take away a lot of the debate in football, but we are debating more and more about VAR than what we did before!"

Thommo's verdict: ON THE FENCE


Charlie Nicholas

"VAR is creating more debate instead of it taking away. I have two key questions on this matter - are they going to get more of the big decisions right and is there going to be more consistency? For all that, I am supportive of VAR. The offside incidents are still confusing but VAR can sort that.

"Jeff Stelling has not taken to it, but at least we know there is a bit more clarity on it. Did they get the Wolves situation right on Monday? Have they got most of the decisions right? Yes.

"Yes, it does take something away from goal celebrations, but when someone scored an offside goal before VAR and they turned around and saw the offside flag up, the crowd always got on their back then when it is disallowed - it's the same as now when VAR displays the 'no goal' sign, it just takes a bit longer.

Manchester City were denied a late goal against Tottenham after a VAR review
Manchester City were denied a late goal against Tottenham after a VAR review

"I think what most people are angry about now is that the new handball rule is a joke, it is absolutely wrong. I have been supportive and will continue to be supportive of the officials, but the Wolves goal should have stood, as should the Manchester City one. That's down to the rule though and not the VAR system.

"I don’t like it at all, but I'm accepting it right now as we are getting the bigger decisions right more often, and they are more consistent in how they are going about it. I am fairly content on the situation now, but I cannot stand that handball rule!"

Charlie's verdict: FOR VAR


Matt Le Tissier

"I have always been in favour of using the technology available, so we can keep justice in football - that has been my position for a couple of years now.

"It is important that VAR is here. Personally I would prefer to wait 30 seconds, 90 seconds, in order to come to the correct decision, rather than waiting for the referee to dictate who wins football matches on some occasions. It is good for the referees this way too.

"I think VAR has worked absolutely fine thus far. I think critics of it are focusing their anger on the wrong issues. They have changed the laws of the game and VAR is implementing these changes. They should direct their anger at IFAB and not VAR.

"I thought at the time that the new handball rule they brought in was perhaps taking things a little too far, but they are trying to get consistency from referees in the way that they give or do not give handballs. I understand why it has been brought in and this will help referees as there are no grey areas now.

"Even when they have to give a penalty they have to make a decision. It gives clarification and VAR has done it properly so far, in terms of the handball situation.

"I don’t want to change anything at the moment. It needs a season for players and fans to get used to it, and then they can go and see if they can do anything better. This should be the situation.

"They are not convinced just yet that it is the perfect model, but they are happy to modify and adapt it as they go on, which is the way they should go about it. If someone comes forward with an idea to improve it, I am happy for them to look at it in order to make it better."

Le Tiss' Verdict: FOR VAR


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