VAR in the Permier League: Phil Thompson and Charlie Nicholas give us their verdicts on the big VAR debate

Our Soccer Saturday pundits give us their verdicts on how VAR is working in the Premier League

Our Soccer Saturday pundits Phil Thompson and Charlie Nicholas have their say on VAR in the Premier League.

Charlie Nicholas

How would you rate VAR out of 10 this season? 4/10

Overall thoughts…

I do not think it has brought the game into disrepute; it has placed it in a negative light. This entertainment business provides a great fascination as a huge level.

I find it hard how when I was in seminars as to whether the players and managers had agreed to it. Will the referee have final call? The answer was yes, but they have not had the last say.

This industry, which I love so much, must adapt to the fans, we must let the fans see the incident, potentially see the incident, and let them hear the conversation on the incident. It is about transparency, common sense, because that is who we are selling it to.

It is not about the pundits and the referee. We all get reactions and different angles and get it very quickly. We need transparency, which leads to honesty.

It has to be right for the fans, which is why they brought it in. The fact that they are anti-VAR tells you all you need to know so let us hear the conversations and see the incident. That is all I am asking for.

It will improve and there will still be mistakes, but it will take time. In time, it will be decent for the game. It has them in mind to help the referees, and they look at the screen and point to the decision.

We have to think more as supporters. Refs watch it in the European competitions. If it takes longer, it takes longer. It cannot be worse than the fiasco of Tottenham v Manchester City. Everybody knew it was a penalty. That was a penalty.

What do you think they have got right?

I think the big decisions within the penalty box and the offside calls too have been carried out well, but in particular, penalties. I am saying mainly, because they have got quite a few decisions wrong. Have they got it wrong because they are supporting the referee, or are we saying the percentage levels are high because they are right? I did support it, but I do have my doubts. I knew it was never the perfect answer; it was always going to take time.

I am still in support of it for the future, so the high percentage of the decisions they get right makes it better for what is right with VAR. The agitation of supporters and the biggest problem is that they made a pig’s ear of informing referees not to go to the side of the pitch.

Why is the monitor there? Why are UEFA doing it and not the Premier League and FA? Some of the big calls they have got horrendously wrong, but I still believe it should be part of the future.


Phil Thompson

How would you rate VAR out of 10 this season? 4/10

Overall thoughts…

I do not think it has given us anywhere near the answer that we all thought it would give. We thought it would right a lot of the wrongs in the game. I think, taking everything away from a pundit’s perspective, as a spectacle for the average football fan, it has taken a lot of enjoyment away from football.

If anybody says there has been a goal, and then it delays it and it gives you a goal, it gives you two cheers rather than one; it is the biggest load of rubbish I have ever heard. Football has never been and never should be that way.

In the case of the offside decisions, I can take it if it is a millimetre as to whether he is offside or onside, but there should be a restriction on how long they should look at it for. If it goes longer than a minute, it should be given as a goal, especially if they cannot decide whether it is or not.

I want them to define if it is a knee, a foot, or an armpit that can be offside. Trying to see all of these lines from the differing parts of the body is difficult. If we can go and track where the foot is, I think it would make it a lot easier to judge where it is, rather than drawing lines down from where the top part of the body is or a knee is. I think that is then how you can judge it to a finer degree. It is called football after all!

A referee needs to look at his monitor. It has proved it with some of the sending offs we have seen, with them either sticking or changing their decision, or rescinding the decision to give a red card. The offside calls are taking too long, and once it goes on too long, they are searching more and more to disallow rather than give goals. That should never be the case, and that is me, as a defender talking.

What do you think they have got right?

The positives have been looking at the monitor and judging it there and then. Sometimes, when there has been pushing or shoving in the box, that is where it has been a positive. I would like to see it used more on things like that. We are not seeing enough penalties given for holding or grappling excessively in the box.

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