So near, yet so VAR... technology not so perfect as Norwich City and Chelsea discover
PUBLISHED: 20:10 18 January 2018 | UPDATED: 12:09 19 January 2018
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Chris Lakey looks at the performance of referee Graham Scott in Norwich City’s cup match at Chelsea... and wonders who were the real losers
Graham Scott: brave or foolhardy? Discuss.
Mr Scott is the referee who, depending on the tint on your glasses, denied Chelsea two penalties or saved Norwich City from conceding two spot-kicks during the FA Cup third round replay on Wednesday.
The fact he had VAR – video assistant referee – to call upon just exacerbates the issues he faced, and the wrath he has incurred. And for the latter you need to look at blue tints...
Let’s boil it down to three incidents from Wednesday night...
Pedro’s dive: Shocking, appalling, an illustration of all that is wrong with football. No need for VAR on this one – it was so “clear and obvious” that, as he tried to skip by Angus Gunn there was no contact whatsoever as he ‘fell’. It was visible from the moon. The fact this was one of two yellow cards (the second was an equally stupid hack on Wes Hoolahan) shows what a foolhardy act it was. Difficulty factor: 0.
Alvaro Mortata’s fall: Under challenge from Christoph Zimmermann, the striker goes to ground in the area. There’s clearly contact, but is it sufficient for Morata to go down? The ref thinks not, books the Chelsea player and, within seconds, books him again for ‘something he said’. Difficulty factor: 8. Hmmm... went down ‘a bit easily’.
Timm Klose’s challenge on Willian: Early in extra-time, Willian is in the area, it’s dangerous, Klose stretches out his left leg, there appears to be contact, Willian goes down ... and the ref books him for simulation as well. No penalty. No VAR (or was there?). Was Willian on his way down to try and get the foul? To be honest, those gales on Wednesday night are the sort of thing that floors the midfielder. Difficulty factor: 0. It’s a pen.
The VAR (in this case Mike Jones in a studio 15 miles away) can inform the ref that he has made a clear and obvious error. The VAR said no. However, had he wanted a wee chat the ref could have overturned the decision based on his word – or watched it on a screen himself.
There is a school of thought that suggests Graham Scott didn’t make an unwitting contribution to a terrific night’s football, but that he simply applied some commonsense to a game that, as Pedro proved, is clearly open to cheating.
Like Brian Glover in the film, KES, he appears to have taken matters into his own hands.
Brave or foolish? You decide...