The GoatyGav Column

This week’s article is going to be a short one due to the holiday demands of kids wanting to get to the beach and the inflatable assault course in the sea. M’Julie and I will be sticking to sunbathing on the beach.

Once again this weekend’s game has been heavily influenced by VAR. This time after Brighton had a goal chalked off for offside. It was marginal but clear – not in the ‘daylight’ sense however. Listening to the likes of Ian Wright anyone would think that the offside rule had just changed to hamper strikers. Does he not realise that the rule is the same – just that strikers are now being found to be offside, according to the same laws. The ‘armpit’ offside brigade would like to see the rule changed so that clear daylight can be seen between the defender and offside attacker. Problem is the same ‘armpit’ argument exists in the clear daylight scenario. You have to draw the line somewhere and, simply put, offside is offside.

I had to laugh listening to a Man City fan phone in to BBC Radio London after the game on Saturday evening. This supporter was not calling to discuss the goal disallowed in injury time but was bemoaning a nailed-on (you’ll never find me using the term ‘stonewall’ incorrectly – does my head in) penalty that the VAR officials decided not to review. Kind of ironic after the Rodri foul, with absolutely no attempt to play the ball, on Haller, that Mike Dean was looking directly at from no more than ten yards away, that led to the City fifth goal the previous week. Not only was it a foul Seb Haller got completely clattered in the most blatant of fashion to the point I believe a yellow card was warranted. How the VAR team could let that one go is beyond me. The main point is, however, are we going to get what we hoped for, and were discussing at length on this blog during the pre-season, in that VAR will prove to be a leveller where decisions have previously gone the way of ‘bigger’ clubs? Early evidence might suggest that the review teams sat at Stockley Park are also choosing to ignore situations which would have benefitted those outside of the Premier League’s top six? Going back to the Haller Poleaxing it certainly seems there is some evidence to suggest it. All of the subsequent media coverage of that goal appears to be ignoring the barefaced clattering too. Now if that had’ve been the other way around with, say, Declan Rice playing Aguero instead of the ball we’d have been watching the footage of it, from every possible angle, on Match Of The Day whilst listening to their commentary team condemning Rice for such an awful challenge. Tell me I’m wrong?

Overall I’m a fan of the technology. It’s only going to improve. Suggestions of a ‘hawkeye’ style system with technology installed in boots, along with an amendment to the off-side law to make the front foot (or back foot if the player has their back to goal) the object of the decision are positive ones. Goal-line technology has been fully accepted and widely viewed as the fair way to way to judge if a goal has been scored or not. Same goes for VAR IMHO.

The argument, that I hear from former professional striker pundits, to say “but it’s only very marginal,” just doesn’t cut it. You have a rule and you stick to it otherwise you introduce ambiguity and, appropriately to this article, further opportunity to side with the bigger boys.
Right – back to that Estrella Damm on the balcony. See you all next week.