Chris Goreham: VAR got the big decisions right... it’s the process that needs changing

Norwich City's Premier League clash against Sheffield United was interrupted by VAR on several occasions. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Norwich City's Premier League clash against Sheffield United was interrupted by VAR on several occasions. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Paul Chesterton

It’s difficult to know what to be more concerned about at the moment, VAR or Vardy.

It's taken great restraint to get to December without writing very much about the influence technology is having on the Premier League this season but it's probably best to concentrate on that for now rather than think about how much the division's top scorer might be licking his lips at being let loose against one of the top flight's leakiest defences when Norwich City go to Leicester City at the weekend.

VAR was not the reason for the Canaries' disappointing defeat to Sheffield United, it's important to point that out and accept that it got the decisions it was used for correct.

Blades defender Chris Basham didn't deserve to be sent off for his lunging tackle on Kenny McLean and it was perfectly correct to back up the officials who had spotted an offside before John Lundstram fired home what would have been a third goal for United.

If you think that the main point of VAR is to help referees get the big decisions right then we've seen some textbook examples at Carrow Road on the last two Sundays of how it can work.

Whether we like it or not the officials with access to technology were perfectly justified in awarding Arsenal a penalty in City's previous home game and allowing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang two bites at the cherry in order to score it.

What has become clear over the first four months of the season is that the pursuit of better decisions has been to the detriment of actually experiencing a football match.

From a commentator's point of view it's been really difficult to keep the listening audience in touch with what decisions are being made at Carrow Road because, for a lot of the time, we don't know.

We get told that VAR is being used to check a goal or a penalty and even though we have access to a screen with replays on it's not always immediately obvious what we should be looking at.


I also wasn't sure how excited to get about Alex Tettey's tremendously taken goal against Sheffield United because there was enough of a suspicion of handball from Christoph Zimmermann as it dropped in Tettey's direction to suggest that a lengthy video check would be necessary. Thankfully they got that decision right as well and now I wish I had done this collector's item of a goal proper justice on commentary.

It's even worse for the paying public. It is now possible to go to a Premier League football match, which is not something that anyone can do lightly given the cost of a ticket, and leave the ground knowing less about what happened than someone who might be watching the game on TV at home. That simply cannot be right.

The Premier League must improve the communication to those inside grounds and at least let the video official talk us all through what is actually being considered. Norwich City and Sheffield United supporters have built up a rivalry in recent seasons so hearing them come together to chant their displeasure at their favourite sport's new video overlords during Sunday's game was telling.

VAR is almost certainly here to stay in the Premier League which is, sadly, more than can be said for Daniel Farke's Canaries after they endured defeats against Southampton and Sheffield United in a week that has extinguished the flicker of optimism that greeted four points from spirited displays against Everton and Arsenal.

Farke was visibly frustrated when he spoke to us on Sunday evening, knowing that some basic defensive errors are undermining any hope this undoubtedly talented set of players has of doing itself justice in the Premier League this season.

He needs to find a way to make his side more watertight because it's Leicester City away next. The Foxes have already put several teams to the sword this season with Jamie Vardy having scored in all of their last eight games.

If Norwich don't defend well there it could be another Premier League video nasty.

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