NOT everyone agrees with a lot of the sentiments offered by Ian Maxwell, but the SFA chief executive absolutely nailed it when he discussed the introduction of VAR to Scottish football.
The soccer ruler proclaimed our game could be in for a “horrendous” few months as they prepared to launch their video assistant referees’ system upon the unsuspecting managers, players and supporters.
Master of the understatement Maxwell revealed last month that “everyone I speak to at UEFA tells me that the first three months are going to be horrendous.”
SOMETHING STINKS…Filipe Jota after his ‘goal’ had been ruled out.
Celtic copped it with some crazy decision-making by Nick Walsh with the whistle and Steven McLean in the control room on the first day when they overcame elements on and off the field to beat Hearts 4-3 at Tynecastle.
One of the main talking points, of course, was the blatant handball by defender Michael Smith when he clearly blocked a James Forrest lobbed pass with his left hand which he motioned towards the ball.
Walsh, with a good view, saw nothing wrong. McLean, sitting in front of a few screens, reviewed the incident for a mere 28 seconds before he decided nothing was untoward.
GETTING THE ELBOW…Alexandro Bernabei and Steven Fletcher go for a high ball before THAT penalty-kick decision.
At the weekend, Dundee United were gifted a bizarre penalty-kick when referee David Dickinson was instructed by Walsh, this time tucked away and out of sight, to look at an incident concerning a potential handball after a close-range header from Steven Fletcher had struck the elbow of Alexandro Bernabei.
Not one of the visiting players appealed for a spot-kick, but eagle-eyed Walsh, who missed Smith’s basketball instincts in Edinburgh, pounced on the moment and, inevitably, a penalty was awarded and Fletcher thrashed it into the net.
There was another VAR-interrupted moment in the first-half when Giorgos Giakoumakis was flattened by a studs-up head-high challenge from Craig Sibbald. Dickinson saw nothing wrong with the wayward challenge and waved play on.
NO FOUL…Giorgis Giakoumakis gets a close-up view of the sole of Craig Sibbald’s boot.
However, the game was delayed while the technical assistant viewed the moment for about two minutes. The game was restarted without any action and Sibbald looked a mightily relieved man.
Last night at Fir Park, it was the turn of Dickinson to take over the controls in front of the screens and – surprise, surprise – the game did not pass without controversy.
There were three huge calls in the champions’ 2-1 win over Motherwell and the most contentious was the ‘no-goal’ verdict in the 58th minute when Filipe Jota sped onto a sublime pass from Kyogo Furuhashi to dink an exquisite finish over the head of the stranded Liam Kelly as he raced from his line.
UP…Filipe Jota dinks the ball as Liam Kelly tries to block the shot.
AND OVER…Filipe Jota watches as his cute chip sails towards the net with Liam Kelly left stranded.
One of the goals of the season? Referee Willie Collum’s standside assistant flagged it off and it went to Dickinson and the team to have a look.
To be fair to the officials back in Clydesdale House, they were working with only six cameras in operation at the ground. Clearly, none offered a good angle, but, despite the attacking team mainly given the benefit of the doubt, the Portuguese flyer was deemed to be offside when Kyogo released the pass.
The VAR image that was flashed onto the screens to prove the goal was invalid left us with more questions that answers.
ONSIDE? Filipe Jota prepares to race onto Kyogo Furuhashi’s pass. Image courtesy of BBC Sportscene.
OFFSIDE? The same incident viewed through VAR cameras from the other half of the field. Hardly conclusive.
Ange Postecoglou, speaking to the BBC immediately after the game, said: “It was a great goal, but if it’s offside then it’s offside.
“I have no problem with VAR, just use it when you need to. That’s the perfect example if that’s offside.”
No-one over-elaborated on a decision not to have Josh Morris banished after a flying challenge on Carl Starfelt that sent the comeback Swede crashing. Collum flashed a yellow card, VAR examined the tackle and decided very quickly a booking had been sufficient.
New technology also had a look at Ross Tierney’s consolation goal for the hosts – only a couple of minutes after Daizen Maeda’s second for the champions – and they decided it was good.
ONSIDE…Ross Tierney is played on by Celtic defender Josip Juranovic before he scores Motherwell’s goal.
No problem with that, Josip Juranovic’s heel on his left foot appeared to play on the Well youngster.
In fact, Steven Hammell’s side probably deserved something from a very competitive attitude throughout that made Postecoglou’s men grind out the three points.
So, no arguments with that decision. After all, all’s fair in love and VAR.
* FOOTNOTE: American singer Edwin Starr had a 1970s hit with a little ditty entitled ‘War (What Is It Good For)’. The next line is ‘Absoluely nothing’.