Angry Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder reveals why he "no longer bothers" reading referee's reports
Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder has again criticised how technology is influencing the outcome of games, despite revealing his club did not petition for VAR to be abolished during lockdown.
Some Premier League clubs are understood to have called for the controversial system to be mothballed ahead of English football’s return to action earlier this month following the Covid-19 pandemic with United rumoured to be among them.
Although Wilder told The Star those reports were false, the 52-year-old, who also lost a campaign to prevent a temporary increase in the number of permitted substitutions, admitted he is angered by how video referees have conducted themselves since being introduced.
Noting how VAR failed to intervene when Hawkeye failed to spot Oliver Norwood’s free-kick had been carried across the line during United’s recent goalless draw at Aston Villa, Wilder said: “I don’t believe that anything should be changed midway through a season, when the players are at their fittest.
“Mind you, we didn’t seem to use VAR for the first game back did we. And we didn’t seem to use Hawkeye either. No one seemed to be watching that match at Stockley Park (where VAR officials are based) either. So it was good to see them bring it all back after that. I’m delighted that they did.”
United have suffered more than any other top-fight team at the hands of VAR this season, with six overturned decisions, including David McGoldrick’s disallowed effort earlier this term against Thursday’s opponents Tottenham Hotspur, among them. But Wilder cited another controversy during a game involving Spurs - December’s 2-2 draw with Norwich City at Carrow Road - to highlight what he believes is a major flaw.
“VAR's here to stay but they should look at some of the goals being disallowed. When you see the goal Norwich scored - a lovely pass and brilliant finish from Teemu Pukki - and the margin they're using to rule that out, it’s something that has to be looked at.
“The supporters are the biggest stakeholders in football and they’re miffed at it. They don’t want to see goals like that chalked-off, or goals like when Lys (Mousset) scored for us at Manchester City disallowed because a bit of his chest is offside. Or when we sat there at Spurs for 10 minutes, only to learn John Lundstram’s toenail was offside."
“I’m never happy with the feedback because it’s always the ‘correct decision and ‘best practice’ no matter what,” he said, focusing on two incidents during Sunday’s FA Cup defeat by Arsenal. “So I don’t even bother reading the reports.
“It’s like when the goalkeeper here at the weekend didn’t tip it over the bar so a goal kick was given, or when a player just came back on the pitch. I’ll get told the referee can do that, it was correct and best practice, even though it’s not in the laws of the game."