Five-point plan to sort out VAR shambles

NEIL WARNOCK has called on referees chief Howard Webb to recruit ex-players and managers to sort out the VAR shambles that is ruining football.

The legendary 74-year-old boss insists only people who have played or coached professionally have a true understanding on matters such as deliberate or dangerous fouls or handballs.

As well as appointing an independent group of ex-players and coaches to operate the technology, he insists Webb must:

l Set a THIRTY-SECOND time limit for decisions to be made

l Stop using slow-mo replays that often make incidents look worse

l Change the offside rule so there must be daylight between an attacking and defending player and introduce the semi-automated system

l Allow refs freedom to use common-sense and end the era of “robot officials” 

Warnock told SunSport: “Many refs – like John Brooks – will get 90 per cent of decisions right because they know the rules. But, when it comes to the football side, such as interpreting deliberate or dangerous play, they often get it wrong.

“You need to have played to understand certain things.

“Currently we’re seeing refs who have a problem making a decision turning to another official doing VAR who also has difficulty understanding a footballing matter.

“VAR must be taken away from refs. Howard and his PGMOL group can manage it – but they should educate an independent group of ex-players and managers to be in the video room.”

Warnock believes the Marcus Rashford sending off during Manchester United’s Champions League clash at FC Copenhagen last Wednesday – and a penalty for each side for handball – would not have been given by an ex-player or manager.

Rashford, attempting to shield the ball, caught the ankle of Elias Jelert. Ref Donatas Rumsas was called over to view a slo-mo and responded by showing a straight red card.

Warnock said: “Both handballs and the red card were bad decisions. There was nothing deliberate – but it’s these new rules which are being misinterpreted.

“It’s a sending off if watched in slo-mo as it looks horrendous at that speed. Yet if you have played the game and see where Rashford was looking and what he did, it isn’t dangerous play. It might be a booking but never a red card.

“In real time, the ref hadn’t seen it that way so I’d have liked him to have gone to the monitor and doubled down on his original decision. But that takes a lot of courage when you’ve got someone in the VAR room suggesting he should change his mind.”

Warnock accused ex-refs boss Mike Riley of creating a “them and us” culture by not encouraging pro footballers forced to retire early to take up refereeing. He said: “A few years ago they should’ve brought some of these players in who may not be able to play anymore but still fit enough to referee because they know the game.

“But it’s something the PGMOL has not encouraged. It was like a them-and-us culture under Mike Riley: ‘We don’t want any of them in here.’

“Howard could encourage some of these lads in their twenties that have decent experience and knowledge of playing the game. 

“It’s something we’ve missed out on. England could’ve been pioneers in getting a proper group of ex-players involved.”

The Tottenham v Chelsea game last Monday saw FIVE goals disallowed with Spurs being reduced to nine men – all the incidents going to VAR.

Although Warnock agreed with the decisions, he was dismayed by the amount of time it took.

He said: “Our game here has long been the best in the world. But anyone watching Tottenham vs Chelsea could’ve gone away to the kitchen to put the kettle on, eat a meal or pop outside for a fag in the time spent on VAR. It was ridiculous.

“They must put a time limit on it. I’ve always said, ‘If you can’t see a fault in 30 seconds go with what the ref originally decided.’ It’s been several minutes sometimes – it’s ridiculous.”

Warnock believes the Premier League must introduce the semi-automated offside system successfully used at last winter’s World Cup – but wants the rules changed.

Goals are currently disallowed, often after ages drawing lines on monitors, due to things such as an attacker’s toe being slightly ahead of a defender.

Advantage used to be given to an attacker level with a defender and the veteran boss insists offside should only be given if there is daylight between the two players.

He said: “They’re going to have to use artificial intelligence technology to speed up decisions.

“I’d also like to see daylight between players before offside is given because when you’re looking for five minutes and it turns out someone’s big toe is the difference between onside and offside, where are we going?

“We want to see goals but seem to be looking for anything to disallow them.”

Warnock is frustrated officials are becoming “robots with whistles”, reluctant to show any discretion in certain situations – strictly applying rules rather than man-managing players and becoming lazy.

He said: “Most of our refs aren’t good enough. There are five or six of them that weren’t good enough in the Championship – yet they’ve not only been promoted to the Premier League but doing the VAR too. I don’t think there’s anyone coming through – the quality is deteriorating.

“Riley took the personality out of refs. He was like, ‘The laws are this – and they’re black and white. That’s how I want my officials.’

“But that’s not good refereeing. My dad was a class-one ref. He’d always talk to players and have a laugh with them.

“You can still have a personality. I don’t mean people like Mike Dean or Graham Poll, who fall in love with themselves and are legends in their own minds.

“I mean just talking to players, being approachable. Personality-wise they should be able to develop.

“You’re seeing situations like Sunderland’s Dan Neil getting sent off the other week against Middlesbrough for two bookings – the second one for appealing for a foul. 

“Red cards were intended for premeditated nasty tackles, not silly things like that or for two bookings that involve taking your shirt off or not retreating 10 yards at a free-kick.

“A good ref like Howard used to say, ‘Look, you’ve already been booked. I’m letting you off this one but watch it?’ That’s a better way to referee rather than steadfastly sticking to the letter of the law and ruining games that people have paid good money to see.” – The Sun.

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