A week in which VAR technology was used on trial for the first time in English club football to a mixed reception ended on Saturday with Premier League managers calling more urgently for its introduction after two highly contentious decisions.
Southampton manager Mauricio Pellegrino led the calls for the video assistant referee (VAR) to be brought into the League after Watford’s Abdoulaye Doucoure had appeared to score with his hand against the Argentine’s side in the last minute to earn a 2-2 draw.
Swansea City’s Portuguese manager Carlos Carvalhal also felt his side would have been given a clear penalty during the 1-1 draw with Newcastle United if VAR had been in operation.
VAR had been given a quiet debut in an FA Cup tie at Brighton & Hove Albion on Monday and a League Cup semi-final between Chelsea and Arsenal on Wednesday but it still resulted in much debate about how effective the trial had been.
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte and Arsenal counterpart Arsene Wenger questioned aspects of VAR after their goalless draw but their criticism was based on technical matters surrounding its use rather than the concept of the system itself.
On Saturday, Pellegrino was left in no doubt that VAR would have corrected a glaring miscarriage of justice when replays showed that Doucoure had stooped to bundle the ball home with his head but ended up using his right palm.
“I am sad. I never see this type of mistake in the Premier League before,” Pellegrino told reporters, while also refusing to criticise the referee Roger East, who along with his assistants had missed the handball.
“To live this injustice is really hard. I think we have to try the technology because in every single team sport the technology helps us to make better decision and why not football.
“We are very sad but we have to accept the rules. It’s part of football.” At St James’ Park, Carvalhal was left wondering if Swansea had been deprived of two crucial points by a first-half decision when a handball from Newcastle’s Mohamed Diame in his own box appeared to be missed by officials.
“My assistant says it’s a very clear penalty and a red card also, so it’s another decision that creates something important but what can we do? Nothing, only talk about this,” said Carvalhal.
“This is one of the situations VAR will in the future say clear penalty. It will be clear.”