David Hannant: VAR issues solved in four easy steps

PUBLISHED: 13:37 30 October 2019 | UPDATED: 13:37 30 October 2019

Video Assistant Referee David Coote awards a penalty to Man Utd during the Premier League match at Carrow Road, Norwich Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 640267 27/10/2019

Video Assistant Referee David Coote awards a penalty to Man Utd during the Premier League match at Carrow Road, Norwich Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 640267 27/10/2019

Paul Chesterton

Can I start by putting it on the record that VAR had next to nothing to do with City losing to Manchester United over the weekend.

While there is an argument that the euphoria of Tim Krul's first penalty save saw our lads get a bit over-excited and leave ourselves open, in the grand scheme of things it really didn't.

Plain and simple, the reason we lost to Manchester United was that Manchester United were better than us. No other reason.

However, the decisions of the dreaded video assistant referee - no matter how meaningless they were - highlighted for the first time in a Norwich City game just how flawed the system is.

Add this to the fact we have seen countless cock-up calls elsewhere since it was rolled out at the start of the season and it's clear it just isn't working... yet.

It's been all the talk over social media this week and I've seen several people calling for it to be scrapped altogether.

I'm not in this camp - we've seen how well it can work in other sports and time, money and research has already been spent on bringing it into football, so for me, it needs to stay.

However, clearly it has taken more away from the game than it has added in its current form, so the football big wigs need to properly examine how it is going and how it can be improved

Thankfully, I'm here, so rather than gathering together the greatest minds in world football to try and crack it, Fifa, the FA, the Premier League, whoever, can look no further than this humble (ish) column to sort it.

So here goes - how do you solve a problem like the VAR? In umpteen easy steps.

I should point out at this stage that I've already seen a few others sharing similar theories- Jon 'Big Grant Holt' Rogers for one.

Bring in a time limit

The wait for the VAR man to forensically watch Dan James buy a penalty was agonising. It took what felt like about an hour.

This is after referee Stuart Attwell emphatically ruled it out - and rightfully so. The system was brought in for clear and obvious errors alone. As Ole Gunnar Solskjaer himself pointed out, if a decision takes two minutes to make, it can't have been clear and obvious. So I propose a 30-second time limit be placed on the VAR to make the decision. In criminal courts, convictions can only be made if guilt is beyond all reasonable doubt. This should be the case in VAR.

If a decision can't be made within 30 seconds, clearly it is not beyond all reasonable doubt.

You could even put a countdown clock in place in the stadium - add a bit of suspense and drama and involve the crowd more.

Mic up the referee

Speaking of getting the crowd more involved - how frustrating was it trying to ascertain whether a VAR check is taking place?

I don't think I've ever spent more time glaring at a referee to see if his hand is to his ear.

This problem could be so, so easily eradicated by hooking the referee's microphone up to the public address system.

It doesn't even necessarily have to be on at all times - just when they are talking to their colleague in the VAR cave miles away.

That way people in the ground - and watching on television - know precisely what is being discussed.

It may also help stamp out one of the other big problems in the game - disrespecting and verbally abusing officials.

One would hope players would think twice about how they speak to referees if their slanders are picked up, broadcast and - most crucially - punished.

Make it an appeal system

It works in tennis, it works in cricket, so why not football?

Few would disagree with the notion that VAR is getting rather too trigger happy, looking at everything under the sun.

So how to you control this? Put power in the hands of players.

Each team can start with two appeals - only the captain can action it and if the decision is not over-ruled you lose it.

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If all appeals are lost then something 'clear and obvious' goes against you, perhaps think better about how you use your appeals in future?

Emphasise the A

Let's not forget what the A stands for in VAR - assistant.

It should be there to assist the referee - not order them about.

For me, the person watching the video should not have the final say - the referee should.

I quite liked how it worked at the World Cup with the referee still verifying the decision with his or her own two eyes.

I, for one, would certainly be interested to see whether Mr Attwell would have awarded one, or even two, of those notorious penalties had he been able to watch the replays himself.

Stop the VAR chants

While I have made it clear in the main part of this column that I'm not ready for VAR to be scrapped - one thing that we can all definitely do without is chanting for it.

At so many points during the match VAR was chanted for, even from the less vocal parts of Carrow Road.

Just what did this achieve? Did anyone genuinely think the man in the VAR cave would hear the chant, look back at nothing and award it? Of course they wouldn't.

How about in future, every time you feel tempted to chant VAR, shout Come on City or similar instead and create an atmosphere the players can feed off of, not be distracted by. It just didn't help anything.

In fact, while VAR is still being used for every silly thing under the sun, how about we use it to scope out the people starting these chants and confiscate their tongues?

As I have outlined in the main piece, VAR has many, many flaws.

However. the fact people are chanting its name is perhaps the biggest flaw of all.

It's Mo or the mayor

Mo Leitner, Alex Tettey and Kenny McLean are all players I like and rate.

However, as a three, I just don't see them working.

Alex Tettey's role is clear and his importance is undeniable - he's the steel.

However, I think with Mo and the mayor it needs to be a case of one or the other.

Both do a decent job at the base alongside a Tettey or a Trybull, however, whenever one is in that role, the other seems to get lost.

And when they play as the deep two - as injuries forced - we just do not have enough physicality to compete.

I just don't see Mo as a number 10 at all - he needs to be deeper where he can influence the game, move the ball and dictate the play.

He's all about finding quick passes and distributing the ball - when he is further up the field he can't do this properly.

When Marco Stipermann came on at half time, we looked far better, with his strength and ability to hold the ball up really helping.

It has to be Mo or the mayor, not Mo AND the mayor.

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