Tottenham boss Ange Postecoglou has called for an end to the questioning of officials’ decisions in order to prevent their authority being undermined.
Spurs had two players sent off in the 4-1 defeat at home to Chelsea – their first loss of the Premier League season – but Postecoglou refused to criticise referee Michael Oliver.
However, after a first half which had 12 minutes added on due to several VAR checks, the Australian felt a number of incidents have led to an overuse of technology.
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta called Newcastle’s winning goal against his team after three VAR checks a “disgrace” on Saturday and the club issued a statement calling for the standard of officiating to be “urgently addressed”.
“Decisions are decisions: you either accept it or you don’t,” Postecoglou told Sky Sports.
“Some of it is self-inflicted [but] if we are going to go out and complain about bad decisions every week what will happen is what happened today: a forensic study of every decision.
“I think that’s the way the game is going. I don’t like it – I could be a lone voice as I’m told that’s the way forward. With VAR intervention it just felt like a lot of standing around.
“At some point, we have to accept the referee’s decision. This constant erosion of referees’ authority, this is what the game is going to get: they will not have any authority, it is going to get diminished and we are going to be in the control of someone a few miles away watching a TV screen.”
When asked later in his press conference if he had been involved in a crazier game during his managerial career, the Australian said: “No, but I think it’s going to become the norm. It’s where the game is heading.
“I think it’s unfortunately how we’re going to have to watch and participate in football from now on. I’ve said it before that I don’t like it. I don’t like the standing around, I don’t like the theatre around waiting for decisions.
“But I know that I’m in the wilderness on that. In my 26 years [as a manager], I was always ready to accept the referee’s decision good, bad or otherwise. I’ve had some shockers in my career let me tell you, and I’ve had some go my way as well.
“But I’d cop that because I just wanted the game to be played. But when we’re complaining about decisions every week, this is what’s going to happen. People are just going to forensically scrutinise everything to make sure they’re comfortable it’s right, and then even after that, we’re still not happy.
“What does that mean? It means we’re going to see a lot of standing around. I just think it’s diminishing the authority of the referee.
“You can’t tell me the referee is in control of games now – they’re not. The control is outside of that, but that’s the way the game is going and you have to accept that and try to deal with it.”
‘I’m an old man shouting at the clouds’
When pressed on whether there was support from other managers and those at the club to put pressure on the Premier League to scrap VAR, Postecoglou said: “There doesn’t seem to be a great call for us to go back to accepting the referee’s decision in the majority of cases.
“I understand goal-line technology. That’s a simple one as that came in and no one’s complained about it. But in searching for this utopia where there are no wrong decisions in a game… that doesn’t exist and it never will.
“But it’s the road that everyone wants to go down. Some of it’s self-inflicted because we all complain about decisions every week. It’s nothing new, but in the past, we got on with it. We didn’t find the need for a miracle cure for it.
“I don’t think that’s a viable option as we seemed to have opened that door and allowed technology in. Now, we want transparency and I can guarantee the next thing is we will have referees mic’d up explaining decisions.
“There’s plenty of other sports you can watch where referees do that but I don’t think it should be in football. But I’m in the wilderness on that one.
“Premier League managers should just manage their football clubs. I’ve never and I never will talk to referees about the rules of the game. I was taught that you grow up and you respect the officials.
“Now, managers look for ways to bend the rules. Tell me what the rule is, and I guarantee you will have a room full of managers processing ‘how can I get around this’.
“What I want are the best officials always being upskilled to officiate the game but it’s so hard for referees to officiate these days. Their authority is constantly getting diminished.
“I grew up afraid of referees like they were policemen. I’m old school, I’m from a bygone era. I just like the purity of the game but part of it is my problem. I’ve got to embrace it and find a way to work with it but it goes against everything I want from my team.
“I want my team to play fast, attacking, high-tempo, go-at-it football. If we get a red card and a penalty against us, so what? Let’s cop it and let’s go again. But we have to stand around for two minutes to work out if someone was offside or not.
“Let the linesman make the decision. Remember when it used to be the benefit of the doubt for the attacker? We all lived with it. The game didn’t collapse. But I’m an old man shouting at the clouds.”
Spurs had led through Dejan Kulusevski’s sixth-minute deflected goal and had a second from Heung-min Son ruled out for offside by VAR.
But when Cristian Romero was sent off for a challenge on Enzo Fernandez which allowed Cole Palmer to equalise from the penalty spot the game changed and a reckless second yellow card for Destiny Udogie early in the second half left the hosts with an uphill battle.
They held out until the 75th minute when Nicolas Jackson scored the first goal of his hat-trick, adding two more deep into added time.
“It’s hard to analyse from a football perspective as you’re left with the result which is obviously disappointing,” added Postecoglou.
“We don’t like to lose, particularly here at home. I’m super proud of the players’ efforts, will, desire and determination to still get something out of the game.
“There’s the fall out from it from our perspective, personnel-wise which we’ll deal with in the coming days. Looking at Micky [van de Ven], you’d say it’s a pretty significant one so I assume he’ll be out for a little while. Madders [James Maddison] got a knock on the ankle so we’ll just have to assess how he is.”
Tottenham lost their discipline in the first half with Romero fortunate to still be on the pitch even before he was dismissed, but Postecoglou refused to blame his captain for the loss.
“He’s a physical guy and it’s part of his strengths,” said Postecoglou, who was booked himself for leaving his technical area. “Today it was deemed that he went too far, so we’ve just got to cop it.”
Poch: We opened ourselves up to this football
It was an absorbing clash on Pochettino’s long-awaited return and while the spotlight will once again be on the officials, this was an important victory for the Chelsea boss who had sympathy for Postecoglou when his points on VAR were put to him.
“We are both frustrated,” said Pochettino. “OK, one team won, the other lost. We wanted technology to arrive and now we can’t complain. When I first came here, I said I didn’t agree with VAR but now I support it. We have to find the right way to use it.
“Today, we played 110 or 120 minutes. I don’t know if it’s now 1am or 2am in the morning! This is the football we opened ourselves up to receive. I don’t know many coaches who wanted it when it came in.
“The balance is really difficult, but we all have to help each other to improve the game.”
Reflecting on his return to Tottenham, Pochettino said: “I feel much better now after four years having had the possibility to come back and say hello to all the staff and the people that we didn’t have the chance to say goodbye.
“It’s a gift for us. It’s very emotional but at the same time, I think the memories you know are in your skin. It was a passionate game and a very competitive game. Being honest, winning the three points is really important for us. It was an amazing day for us.”
Neville: PL needs to act and protect officials after ‘dangerous’ club VAR statements
Speaking ahead of Spurs’ defeat to Chelsea on Monday Night Football, Gary Neville called on the Premier League to act and protect its referees after labelling the statements from Liverpool and Arsenal on VAR “dangerous”.
Arsenal urged the PGMOL to “urgently address the standard of officiating in the Premier League” in an unprecedented statement for the club, after Newcastle beat the Gunners via a controversial winner on Saturday.
Anthony Gordon’s second-half strike was enough to beat Mikel Arteta’s side despite a four-minute VAR check to analyse three talking points with the goal – whether the ball went out of play, a potential foul by Joelinton and an offside on Gordon.
There were also controversial potential red-card incidents involving Kai Havertz and Bruno Guimaraes as temperatures reached boiling point at St James’ Park and it led to Arteta telling Sky Sports after the game that the awarding of the goal was a “disgrace” and “embarrassing” for the officials – and on Sunday, Arsenal came out as a club to support the manager.
It follows a similar statement from Liverpool after refereeing standards in the Premier League once again came under intense scrutiny after VAR admitted a mistake in ruling out Luis Diaz’s ‘offside’ goal for Liverpool at Tottenham in September.
Speaking on Monday Night Football, Gary Neville believes officials are being “significantly and seriously undermined” by statements from clubs, and he insists the Premier League needs to get tough on this situation.
“I thought the statement [from Arsenal] was really poor,” the former Manchester United defender told MNF. “I thought the same the other week.
“Liverpool had a shocking one go against them a few weeks ago at Spurs, and we knew it was wrong at the time. They had a lot to feel hard done by. But the following day when Liverpool wrote their statement mentioning sporting integrity, mentioning they were looking at all options and then the suggestion of a replay, I thought that was quite dangerous.
“The Arsenal statement is quite dangerous.
“All clubs have signed up to a new behavioural charter at the start of the season. I’m not saying referees shouldn’t be put under pressure or that Mikel Arteta, and other managers, shouldn’t feel aggrieved at the end of matches. What I am saying is that the clubs themselves should behave better in these circumstances.
Arsenal’s statement in full
Arsenal Football Club wholeheartedly supports Mikel Arteta’s post-match comments after yet more unacceptable refereeing and VAR errors on Saturday evening.
We’d also like to acknowledge the huge effort and performance from our players and travelling supporters at St James’ Park.
The Premier League is the best league in the world with the best players, coaches and supporters, all of whom deserve better. PGMOL urgently needs to address the standard of officiating and focus on action which moves us all on from retrospective analysis, attempted explanations and apologies.
We support the ongoing efforts of chief refereeing officer, Howard Webb and would welcome working together to achieve the world-class officiating standards our league demands.
Liverpool’s statement in full
Liverpool Football Club acknowledges PGMOL’s admission of their failures last night. It is clear that the correct application of the laws of the game did not occur, resulting in sporting integrity being undermined.
We fully accept the pressures that match officials work under but these pressures are supposed to be alleviated, not exacerbated, by the existence and implementation of VAR.
It is therefore unsatisfactory that sufficient time was not afforded to allow the correct decision to be made and that there was no subsequent intervention.
That such failings have already been categorised as “significant human error” is also unacceptable. Any and all outcomes should be established only by the review and with full transparency.
This is vital for the reliability of future decision-making as it applies to all clubs with learnings being used to make improvements to processes in order to ensure this kind of situation cannot occur again.
In the meantime, we will explore the range of options available, given the clear need for escalation and resolution.
“I’m looking at the Premier League now and the leadership of the Premier League because the reality is they have got to start protecting referees,” Neville added.
“At the very beginning, I was excited by the new transparency, the apologies to managers and the fact the referees were communicating to the clubs, but in return what they are getting is significantly and seriously undermined by their own clubs.
“The Premier League have to get this in order. The other clubs have to get the clubs that are writing these letters in order because this is unchartered territory the idea of these letters being written and the statements.
“To me, it feels like Arteta has gone off on one on Saturday, which is fine because he’s emotional, and he’s almost gone to his board on the Sunday and said you need to back me. They’ve fallen for it.
“Arsenal is an institution as a football club. It’s a massive, great and wonderful football club with huge history. They should behave better than that and whoever it is that has sanctioned that statement will feel disappointed in a few years.
“I do think the Premier League has to come down on their clubs. They have to say to them that they expect a lot better than this.”
PGMOL not commenting on Arsenal statement
The PGMOL is not commenting on Arsenal’s statement.
On Bruno Guimaraes’ yellow, Sky Sports News understands it would have been a red had it been deemed ‘violent conduct’.
On the potential Gordon offside for Newcastle’s goal, Sky Sports News understands there was no conclusive evidence available to VAR of when the ball was played.
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