Chris Wilder echoes Sheffield United fans' VAR sentiment after Fulham shambles epitomised big issue with tech

Sheffield United fans left exasperated at VAR once again after lengthy checks come back to haunt their side v Fulham
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He declined the invitation to offer his honest thoughts on the performance of the refereeing during Sheffield United's dramatic 3-3 draw with Fulham but when the chance came to speak about VAR and the big issue it presents to English football at the moment, boss Chris Wilder couldn't bite his tongue any longer. Not long earlier the game had been extended by 15 or so minutes after two lengthy checks, giving Fulham both the time and momentum to equalise and even push for a remarkable winner.

One of the checks, after Oli McBurnie's second "goal" that would have put United 4-1 up and surely out of sight, was technically warranted when Vini Souza was discovered to have touched the ball after coming back from an offside position but the other, after Ben Brereton Diaz had netted his second, was bizarre. No-one in the ground - players, media or, more importantly, punters who had paid their hard-earned to be in the stands - had much idea what was even being looked for after a goalmouth skirmish.

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There was a few minutes of melee, then celebrations, then players returning to their positons before kick-off before anyone inside Bramall Lane was even notified of a VAR check and eventually it cleared anyone of any violent conduct. With a lengthy stoppage after Ollie Arblaster went down, plus five goals and five sets of subs totalling five minutes, the lengthy checks resulted in another remarkable amount of added time which caused real frustration amongst home supporters.

While the powers-that-be rely on their statistics about the number of correct decisions being made, it is the intangible, the enjoyment of the game for those who pay their money through the turnstiles, that is at risk here. For full disclosure I was generally pro-VAR from its introduction but have expressed reservations before about the time taken to make decisions, and how they are communicated. The obvious answer seems to be a time limit, whereas if VARs can't make a conclusive decision in, say, two minutes then the on-field decision stands.

It was a frustration shared by boss Wilder in the aftermath of Saturday. "I'm the same," he admitted when asked about the feeling of the checks taking too long. "I've played, coached and managed and all through that time I'm a supporter, so I can imagine what you're thinking is what we're all going through - how long it takes.

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"It wasn't brought in for this, it was brought in for Hand of God 86 [Maradona's handball against England] when a referee, two linesmen and a fourth official didn't see something everybody in the world saw. For me it's for that, not to the extent of how it is now with everything getting dissected and how long it's taking over every decision. That's how it is, and I don't think it's going away."

Asked if he had received or offered any feedback from or to PGMOL, the body in charge of match officials in England, Wilder added: "No, we were on a Premier League managers meeting and they think everything's fine and going in the right direction and they're getting a percentage right. I'm not getting involved in any of that, I'll let the bigger voices in the room take that on. From my point of view I'll keep my opinions to myself."

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