Gary Neville blasts VAR for absolutely shocking weekend

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Gary Neville has joined in with the debate around VAR in the Premier League after a weekend consisting of several high-profile incidents that have sparked plenty of criticism from fans, players and pundits alike. The system has regularly been a source of controversy since it was introduced in England back in 2019 and has been in the headlines once again for all the wrong reasons over the course of the weekend.

Newcastle United and West Ham were denied what should have been legitimate goals against Crystal Palace and Chelsea respectively, while Arsenal saw an opener ruled out against Manchester United for a marginal offside decision. Neville has since reflected on a ‘shocking’ weekend for VAR by calling the integrity of the system into question and pointing out that other countries seem to be able to operate it to a higher standard than in England.

“He’s [the VAR official] probably having a cup of tea one minute, he’s watching the game the next,” Neville told Sky Sports. “I’m sure he’s more alert than that but it just doesn’t feel right, that’s the bit that I’m struggling with a little bit.

“I think things were working a lot better, so it’s just a setback this weekend but it’s a bad one because there’s some big noise out there against it and it won’t go away, but neither will VAR. They’re not going to scrap it.

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“It’s been operated better abroad at times than it has done in this country. We’ve got to get better at it, but we are getting better. Some of the refereeing performances I’ve seen have been absolutely brilliant, however VAR has had a shocking weekend, we’ve all had them.”

Neville’s comments were echoed over the weekend by Gary Lineker, who took to Twitter to relay his boredom in mulling over controversial VAR decisions on an almost weekly basis. The Match of the Day presenter said: “Here we go again. VAR is so tedious.” He also added in a follow-up tweet that it is ‘so boring’ and ‘joyless’.

Refereeing body PGMOL has already acknowledged the incidents at Newcastle and Chelsea as mistakes after being asked to investigate them by the Premier League. The damage has already been done, though, and it remains to be seen how many more questionable decisions will be made before something is done to ensure the highest standards of officiating from those responsible.

Elsewhere in the Premier League over the weekend, referee Michael Oliver ignored the advice of VAR in Bournemouth’s win over Nottingham Forest by sticking to his decision to award a penalty for handball despite being asked to review the incident on the pitchside monitor. Leeds United boss Jesse Marsch was also sent off for his reaction to two penalty decisions that did not go the way of the Whites during their defeat at the hands of Brentford.

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