VAR was our friend this time, but it’s still an almighty farce

VAR was our friend this time, but it’s still an almighty farce

Be careful what you wish for. “Winning all the time is boring,” he said. “It doesn’t feel natural,” he said. Shut up, Steve.

Losing in Naples wasn’t so bad, in itself; there’s another five games to go after all. It just felt like I’d interfered with Lady Luck and got a slap across the chops for it. We played better there than we did last season, but lost by a bigger margin. So it goes.

Our dependency on the front three was always unnerving, but it’s like transfer speculation on any of them or Van Dijk; look on it as a first-world problem. Wanna go back to Hodgson, losing to Northampton and wondering who might take Paul Konchesky off our hands? Didn’t think so.

I thought it was a penalty at first, so little blame could be attached to the referee. That it still stood showed the inherent weakness of VAR, and what looks set to be its defining conundrum; who gets final say — Tech or Human?

The guy watching it on a screen isn’t going to change that, announcing to the world the player is a cheat and the ref was a sucker. It didn’t happen in the Super Cup either. The goal-line thing is fine, it’s irrefutable, but a lot of football still boils down to interpretation. VAR hasn’t done what was promised — stop the arguments. Never could, never will. It’s made them worse if anything.

The problem with all machinery is it’s sold to you as fool-proof. Take the weather forecast; you used to look out the window and take your chances. Now you rely upon it and fume when you get soaked when ‘they’ said it would be dry.

I got along without the internet for 40 years, but now if it goes down for an hour, and I’m peeling my face off. Dependency kills. Poor decisions were part of the game. You didn’t like it, you’d rage about a decision for ages (Everton did it for four decades) but football survived easily enough.

Can’t stop fiddling with things, some people. So to Chelsea then, and a stats quibble about Klopp’s record on Big Six grounds. People will always find flaws, even in a European Cup winner.

Within 12 months of him being here, he’d won at Arsenal and City, at Chelsea twice, knocked United out of Europe and got two draws at Spurs. Now that we’re pretty damn good, those clubs are being extra vigilant.

We’ve had the reverse of this, when Rafa chased Ferguson. United got 58 points off the bottom 10. It was our failure to bully on the flattest tracks that cost us then.

You can see it as Liverpool never getting it right, or simply look askance at folk who could pull anyone up on anything. I went to Stamford Bridge regularly between 1990 and 2003 and didn’t see one win. I’m not going to have a hissy fit over a couple of blank years.

And, after writing all that, the outcome seemed inevitable — though we did our best to throw it away, obviously. Nothing’s ever simple, is it?

VAR was our friend this time, but it’s still an almighty farce. Maybe a moratorium on the offside law itself is in order, involving the finest minds in the game (whoever they are, God help us).

We did well despite Salah thinking he was still a Chelsea player and the manager deciding Alonso should be left alone for almost the entire time he was on. Klopp made the glaringly obvious fix in the 91st minute… sometimes I wonder how they tie their shoelaces.

2-0 is never enough, is it, and an inability to keep the ball in the face of an opponent’s resurgence has never been addressed and probably never will. Yes, it’s a hard place to go to, but you don’t have to keep making it harder, surely?

Moan, moan, moan. Yes, I’m back to that now. Cocksure was an ill-fitting suit.


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