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Newcastle United legend Alan Shearer is the Premier League's all-time top scorer with 260 goals and a leading TV pundit from the BBC's flagship football programme Match of the Day. Euro '96 Golden Boot winner Alan will be sharing his thoughts on all things football every week throughout the 2018/19 season.

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Shearer says: “VAR failed at the very moment that we needed it!”

England legend discusses his video technology views

I haven’t changed my view on VAR since the use of it was first proposed. Whether it be six months down the line, a year, or further, I’m pretty sure my view will not change.

There was always going to be trouble around its introduction and as it turns out it, that has happened very early on in the experiment.

I accept that it worked well on Tuesday evening in the Leicester against Fleetwood game with a goal being flagged incorrectly for offside. However, there are still problems for me in that instance. What happens if the goalkeeper looks over to the linesman, sees the offside flag and stops playing?

I rang referees’ boss Mike Riley before the Chelsea Norwich replay and asked him, for argument’s sake, what happens if that Iheanacho chance happened to start 20 yards further out?

Let’s say he has broken the offside trap, he’s one on one with the goalkeeper and the linesman flags. Does the referee let it carry on?

Mike Riley’s words to me were that in that instance there is still a long way to go. However, he said that when it’s ‘in and around’ the box then the referee must pause for a second or two to try and allow the move to finish and potentially result in a goal.

If it is twenty yards back from the area then the linesman should still flag, irrespective of the situation of play and the ref will give the offside.

How vague are those instructions?  Are we seriously expecting referees to judge distances on the pitch in a split second, on top of all the other pressures they are under?  It’s unrealistic, to say the least.

Teething issues

In the Chelsea game the VAR system failed at the very moment that we needed it. Yes, the Willian penalty claim came after repeated penalty calls from Chelsea, however, my immediate reaction was that it was a penalty. Why would Willian go down and dive when he has a free shot at goal?

So the ref Graham Scott went to the VAR, and after a looking from a couple of angles he was pretty swiftly told that he had made the correct decision – no reason to change anything, no penalty.

But Graham Scott didn’t even take a second look on the VAR monitor. I understand that the officials may have been keen to make a quick decision so that they didn’t get criticised over the length of time it took.

However, it is staggering that experienced officials looked at that incident and decided that it wasn’t a penalty.

Even the defender came out after the game and admitted that he clipped Willian and it should have been one. You’ve got a defender who admits that after the game but a referee in a studio who watches several angles in slow motion says it’s not clear and obvious and they are not changing their mind. That to me is unbelievable!

It will always be troublesome, as the decision is still coming down to somebody’s opinion on a foul and also on what is ‘clear and obvious’.

To add insult to injury Willian got booked for diving, and Chelsea can’t overturn that booking. Willian now has a yellow card to his name for cheating and can’t get rid of it.

Opposing views

I lost count of the amount of footballers, former and current, that said it was a penalty. I was with Gary Lineker, Dion Dublin, Gianfranco Zola and Jermaine Jenas on Match Of The Day who all said it was and I also saw plenty of others on Twitter saying words to the same effect.  All of this simply highlights why I’m opposed to VAR for decisions like this, it all comes down to an individual’s opinion.

I do however think that the referee got everything else right on a night when Chelsea seemed intent on conning the ref into giving them a penalty. Pedro’s dive in the first half was about as blatant as you’d get and his second yellow for a bad tackle was exactly what he deserved.

Morata also blatantly dived, yes the defender put his hands on him but there was no way it was enough to make him fall down like he did. So that and the subsequent yellow card for abusing the officials in the heat of the moment were both bookings.

In my opinion the referee was let down by the system. In the main, he got the big decisions right, but unfortunately, he got one wrong and he should have been helped out by the system in that instance.

Referees get most decisions correct and I’m not blaming Graham Scott at all. However, he will now always be remembered for what happened on that call.

Ongoing issues

The VAR system could still be used in Russia for the World Cup this summer. They have reservations in Italy, they’re not happy with it in Germany, but it’s still being introduced across Europe’s big leagues.

We have had three games here now with VAR and it only took until the third game for the system to fail the match referee.

If we are not careful I really do think it will cause more harm than good, with the effects on the flow of the game, the change in dynamic and momentum, while still not eradicating mistakes.

Despite the controversy, Chelsea can’t hide behind the fact that they were very ordinary over the two games against Norwich and I thought they were fortunate to win the tie.

There is something missing at the moment with them, something not quite right. The FA Cup should be really important to them now as they’re not going to win the league and they are right up against it having drawn Barcelona in the Champions League. They have to be focussing on the Carabao Cup and the FA Cup.

If they decide to rest the team again, which they might do with the Champions League on the horizon, then there is every chance that Newcastle can go there in the next round and cause an upset. I certainly hope that’s the case!