Gary O'Neil Criticizes VAR Inconsistencies in Wolves' Defeat
|Gary O'Neil, Manager of Wolverhampton Wanderers, interacts with Unai Emery, Manager of Aston Villa, during the Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Aston Villa at Molineux on October 08, 2023 in Wolverhampton, England(Image-Getty)
Wolverhampton Wanderers manager Gary O'Neil, a long-time supporter of VAR, expressed frustration on Monday as his team faced two penalties in a 3-2 defeat against Fulham. The penalties, converted by Willian, were awarded for a Nelson Semedo challenge on Tom Cairney and a late Joao Gomes challenge on Harry Wilson, the latter granted after a VAR review.
Despite his initial backing for VAR, O'Neil voiced concerns about the system, stating, "I've always been for VAR, but I think it's causing a big problem at the moment." He highlighted the inconsistency in VAR decisions, noting that while the first penalty was not considered a clear and obvious error, the second one was, leading O'Neil to feel that VAR had adversely affected his team.
"The referee basically admitted they made a mistake with the Nelson one, but the one with Harry Wilson, we disagree a little bit," O'Neil told reporters. He emphasized the impact of such decisions on his club, lamenting, "I'm managing a big football club here, and the difference that you're making to my reputation, to the club's progression up the league, to people's livelihoods, it's huge."
Despite Wolves holding the 12th position in the Premier League with 15 points from 13 games, O'Neil attributed the loss of an additional seven points to what he perceived as "bad refereeing decisions." Frustrated by the situation, he questioned the acceptability of numerous errors in a league with advanced technology and substantial resources, stating, "It can't be like this with all the technology and all the time in the biggest league in the world that we're getting so many wrong. It can't be ok."
O'Neil joined a growing list of Premier League managers, including Juergen Klopp, Ange Postecoglou, Mauricio Pochettino, and Mikel Arteta, who have criticized VAR. The Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL), responsible for English referees, acknowledged some mistakes and recommended a more proactive VAR involvement during games.