Three months on and Sheffield United are still waiting to discover why THAT goal at Aston Villa didn't stand
Nearly 14 weeks since a combination and computer and human error cost Sheffield United dear at Villa Park, Chris Wilder has admitted he is still waiting for a proper explanation as to how both Hawkeye and the VAR official failed to rule Oliver Norwood’s free-kick had been carried across the line by Orjan Nyland.
Speaking after last season’s visit to Aston Villa finished goalless - a month before Dean Smith’s side went on to avoid relegation by a single point - Wilder labelled the technology system’s failure to award the strike, and the VAR official’s refusal to intervene when the malfunction became clear, as the stuff of “Del Boy”.
Now, as United prepare to return to the West Midlands tomorrow evening for their second Premier League fixture of the new campaign, Wilder revealed a brief communication from the competition’s governing body remains the only message his employers have received about an episode which, he believes, would not have been effectively swept under the carpet had a more “fashionable” club been wronged.
“I wasn’t satisfied with the outcome, no,” Wilder said, aware that some commentators will accuse him of sour grapes by continuing to talk about the matter. “There was the statement on the night and then we got a bit of contact from the Premier League.
“We had to move quickly on. But I’m not sat here thinking that everything was explained and that everything was okay, because it wasn’t.
“I’m certain, if we were a more powerful club, a bit more of a name, a bit more fashionable if you like, there would have been a lot more made about that.”
“I’m just answering a question that you guys have put to me,” Wilder added, during Saturday’s pre-match media conference. “Most probably it will come out as ‘The manager of Sheffield United is moaning about it again.’ But I’m not. I’m just telling you about what happened on the night.
“Even if we get one (an explanation), it’s a bit late now isn’t it, all these months on. I’m not expecting it. And there isn’t one coming either.”
Although United went on the finish ninth in the table, what Hawkeye’s manufacturers labelled as a “never seen before” mistake, compounded by Paul Tierney’s failure to highlight it from his seat at Stockley Park, did alter the dynamic of the campaign. Not only in South Yorkshire but also potentially at AFC Bournemouth, where Eddie Howe’s side dropped into the Championship after finishing a point behind Villa but with a better goal difference.
Smith’s board of directors have taken full advantage of their luck, sanctioning a major summer spending spree which has seen the likes of Ollie Watkins, Matty Cash and Bertrand Traore join his squad. It is unlikely, given the talent at his disposal, that Smith’s side will struggle this time around.
“Villa, in fairness, went on to have a brilliant end,” Wilder, whose men began their season with a 2-0 defeat by Wolverhampton Wanderers last week, said. “They finished really strongly and they’ll be looking to take that momentum into this season.”