LONDON – Endless VAR stoppages during Tottenham Hotspur’s chaotic 4-1 home defeat by Chelsea on Monday left watching England manager Gareth Southgate bored, he said on Thursday.
The Premier League derby was one of the most extraordinary in the history of the competition, with nine VAR checks, five disallowed goals, two red cards and 21 minutes of stoppage time.
Southgate was in the stadium and was as bemused as some of the fans at times when lengthy VAR decisions were being made.
Tottenham manager Ange Postecoglou said that he seemed to have spent much of the match standing around waiting for decisions to be made, and Southgate sympathised.
“Well, I was bored watching the game. I was at the game and it just kept stopping. So never mind the players. What about the fans?” Southgate told reporters after naming his squad for the Euro 2024 qualifiers against Malta and North Macedonia.
“Now the flip side of that is I think all the decisions were right in the end. So if that’s the purpose of the game, then fine, but it’s sucking the enjoyment out of goals.
“And I think the ball in play time was incredibly low, even though we had 21 minutes of extra time.”
The ball was actually in play for only 43% of the match on Monday — the lowest total in the Premier League for two years.
Time taken to make VAR decisions, especially offside incidents, has become a frustration for fans.
“We’re looking for perfection in an imperfect world, there will always have to be decision making and interpretation,” Southgate said, echoing the words of Postecoglou who said it was pointless seeking a utopia of no wrong decisions.
“If you search for problems in a penalty box, if you want to freeze any corner, then you could give free kicks, penalties either way, easily. I wasn’t for (VAR) at the start and I’ve seen nothing to encourage a change of opinion.”
Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford was sent off away to FC Copenhagen on Wednesday, after a VAR check, and Southgate said it was the right call. “I think he’s unlucky but I think it’s a red card.”
Asked about Rashford’s goals for United and newspaper headlines after he celebrated his birthday after United lost the Manchester derby, Southgate added: “I’ve not spoken to him, he knows we love him. He’s been exceptional in the last three starts with us. We think his form with us has been good.
“For me, there’s nothing to discuss.” REUTERS
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