Love it or hate it, VAR is here to stay.
Despite coming in for considerable criticism since its introduction, the new technology did what it's supposed to do at the London Stadium on Saturday. After netting in the closing stages against West Ham United, Jordan Ayew's celebrations were cut short by a raised flag from an overly zealous linesman, but VAR came to Crystal Palace's rescue.
Jordan Ayew's controversial late winner!— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) October 5, 2019
It took a lengthy referral to the VAR but eventually the goal stood and won Palace this London derby.
Watch the fallout on Sky Sports Premier League or follow it here: https://t.co/F9G4an13OK pic.twitter.com/9rAGYJTClL
A consultation with the man behind the screen saw referee Michael Oliver award Ayew's late winner, sparking scenes of joy in the Eagles dugout and away end.
Let's make this clear: VAR, and VAR alone, ensured Roy Hodgson's men were not robbed of a precious three points in this all-London clash. Had it not been around, the visitors would have had to settle for a draw, before later realising the injustice that befell them.
That's good. That is very good. Above all else, football fans want fairness and balance from the officials (except maybe the birthday boy below), and that is what they got on the weekend.
Now, that's not to say the linesman should be blamed for his incorrect offside call. Even after the incident had been referred, it took over a minute for a decision to be reached, demonstrating the fine margins that were being dealt with.
These calls simply cannot be made by using only the human eye. In a tenth of a second and standing at a reasonable distance from the play, it's unreasonable to expect the men in black to be right 100% of the time.
When analysing a foul in the penalty area, the decision is subjective. However, events like that involving Ayew can be analysed, slowed down, and replayed until an accurate call - based upon objective evidence - can be made. The result is a welcome one.
People can lament the delayed celebration as much as they like, it doesn't change the fact that a goal has been scored. Having to wait for confirmation is a price most would be willing pay to ensure their side aren't erroneously stripped of a winner.
It's easy to forget the uproar that used to come when a team stole victory - or were denied it - courtesy of poor officiating. There was certainly more irritation and criticism during those lawless, pre-VAR days.
A season would near its conclusion and supporters would start totting up all the points they should have had, explaining why their beloved team deserved to be higher up the table. Such discussions will soon be a thing of the past.
Another issue people have been debating relates to where the offside line should be drawn.
Raheem Sterling's opening-day effort versus West Ham was chalked off due to the forward being less than an inch ahead of the last defender, yet Ayew's goal at the same venue is allowed to stand because he's a few centimetres back.
That's ridiculous, right? No. It really isn't. There is no option but to draw a line, with anyone in front of it deemed to be in an illegal position. No alternative exists.
VAR ruled Jordan Ayew was onside and overturned the original call to hand Palace the win at West Ham. Ayew’s late VAR goal snatches victory to send Hodgson’s side up to fourth pic.twitter.com/yqmI5M2Ut9— Lilian Chan (@bestgug) October 5, 2019
Some suggest an adjustment to the ruling, whereby the attacker must be at least partially in line with the defender to be onside.
That's all well and good, but leaves us with the same problem of what constitutes being in line. Does a millimetre suffice? How about two inches? You see the issue.
VAR has served football - and Crystal Palace, in particular - well this weekend and it will only get better as we fine-tune and adapt to the technology.
Source : 90min