It was a day when managers were at odds over the correct use of the video assistant referee as several Premier League games on Saturday resulted in controversial decisions.
West Ham were denied an equalizer in the 90th minute when Maxwel Cornet’s attempt was ruled out after Jarrod Bowen fouled Edouard Mendy in the run-up – a decision David Moyes called “scandalous”.
Elsewhere, Newcastle saw what Eddie Howe described as a “perfectly fine goal” and Leeds boss Jesse Marsch was sent off for his reaction to two penalty decisions that weren’t in his side’s spirit in a defeat by Brentford.
“Players and managers were let down today, it was a terrible day – they were let down by decisions like that,” Alan Shearer said of the game of the day.
Former high-profile manager Tony Pulis said on BBC Radio 5 Live: “It’s not VAR – let me get that right. VAR only records the TV footage, it’s the people who run VAR.
“It’s these people who make the decisions. It’s the umpires who are stuck in this office, wherever they are, making the decisions.”
However, there was one case where a referee was told to consult the pitchside monitor and stand by his decision on the pitch.
That happened in Nottingham Forest, where Michael Oliver missed a penalty for handball and was scored by Brennan Johnson five minutes later.
“Well done Michael Oliver, finally a referee has had the courage to say, ‘I stand by my decision,'” said Shearer. “Don’t be surprised to see more of this in the coming weeks as he’s the first to do so.”
Who pushed who in St. James?
Newcastle and Crystal Palace Draw 0:0 at St James’ Park, but only after the hosts were disallowed a goal.
Tyrick Mitchell turned the ball into his own net and referee Michael Salisbury ruled him out for a foul on goalkeeper Vicente Guaita by Joe Willock, although Newcastle felt the midfielder himself was shoved by Mitchell.
“I didn’t think it should have been banned, I personally thought it was a foul or a jab at Joe Willock in the lead up to the ball,” Howe said.
“Joe’s momentum is fixed by his opponent at this point, he then carries it into the keeper. But without that push, there’s no way Joe would have gone in with that power.
“If anything, it’s a penalty if it’s not a goal, so I was very surprised by the result.”
Palace boss Patrick Vieira contradicted: “It was a clear foul and if not, the keeper gets the ball in his hand. The referee makes the right decision.”
Shearer said: “It’s shocking, abysmal, shameful – Willock is going to head that ball so Mitchell shoves him – Michael Salisbury gets it right, it’s Lee Mason [VAR official] who kind of bizarrely tells him, ‘You made a howler’.”
Shearer said the referee was not then shown the best angle of the incident.
“Lee Mason takes the blame because he’s an inexperienced referee,” added Shearer. “At this level you have to get that decision right, he didn’t have any help from VAR. Way too many mistakes, VAR isn’t the problem, it’s the people running it.”
A history of two penalties
It was a story of two penalties Brentford’s 5-2 win over Leeds – one given and one not.
Ivan Toney opened the scoring with a penalty awarded after a foul by Luis Sinisterra – who was ruled ball-grabbing by VAR but had taken the player first – but Leeds were denied a free-kick of their own when Crysencio Summerville was brought down by Aaron Hickey.
“I have to figure out how to have conversations with the league or with umpires to understand how some decisions are being made,” said Leeds boss Marsch, who was frustrated that officials were not reviewing the Summerville challenge.
“I spoke to the fourth official and tried to be as respectful as possible, even when a penalty was awarded which I probably didn’t think was a penalty.
“And then you don’t see it returned, the respect. That’s what I would call it. This lack of VAR visits ends up being a lack of respect for me.”
“I understand his frustration,” Danny Murphy said of the game of the day. “It was a terrible decision, compounded by the fact Brentford had been given one – you expect VAR to tell him to go and check and they don’t.”
Brentford coach Thomas Frank, on the other hand, saw it differently: “I trust that VAR and the referees will make a decision about it.
An ‘absolute shocker’ at the bridge?
It was a dramatic finish at Stamford Bridge as Chelsea fought back win 2-1 against West Ham, although the Hammers were denied a late equaliser.
Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel said he thought there had been a foul on his goalkeeper before Michail Antonio put West Ham ahead but agreed with the decision not to allow Cornet’s late strike for the visitors.
“We were lucky today to have the VAR decision in our favor, which was the right decision for me,” he said of the game of the day.
Cornet tumbled after Mendy parried the ball his way, but after being asked to look at the monitor referee Andrew Madley ruled Bowen had committed a foul on the goalkeeper.
“The keeper comes to take it and actually fumbles it five or six yards out of his hands so he could never retrieve it,” said Moyes, adding that he was “embarrassed” by VAR official Jarred Gillett. “Then he acted like he had a shoulder injury. I’m amazed the VAR sent the referee to see this.
“It was a ridiculously bad decision. I would question VAR as much as the referee, but the referee should have stuck to his own guns – there’s no excuse for it not to score, none at all. The sad thing is that is currently the level of weak referees.
“Jarrod said he never touched the goalkeeper at all. And if you look at that, he jumps at him. It could have been a trailing foot if there was anything at all.”
Former Chelsea striker Chris Sutton said of Final Score: “I agree with David Moyes there, the goal should have stood, it wasn’t a foul on Edouard Mendy. It infuriates fans across the country when they see decisions like that. An absolute shocker.”
Ex-Brighton striker Glenn Murray added on 5 Live: “These are the decisions that make managers gray. I have the feeling that Edouard Mendy bought that from the referee.”
And Murphy agreed: “I don’t think I have any words to say out loud. It was a ridiculous decision – I can’t find any logic in it.”
Shearer said it was “never a foul” and not the reason VAR was implemented.
“Minimum intervention, maximum benefit was what we were told when VAR was brought in,” he said. “It’s a terrible, shameful decision — more than terrible.”