VAR costing ‘livelihoods and reputations’ fumes Wolves boss after latest problems

Gary O’Neil was left furious after his side’s defeat to Fulham  (PA Wire)
Gary O’Neil was left furious after his side’s defeat to Fulham (PA Wire)

Wolves manager Gary O’Neil has said that he has been “turned against” VAR and claimed that bad decisions are impacting upon “people’s livelihoods”.

O’Neil’s side were again on the end of a number of contentious decisions in Monday night’s 3-2 defeat to Fulham at Craven Cottage.

Three penalties were awarded in the fixture, including two against Wolves, the second of which was awarded in stoppage time after referee Michael Salisbury reviewed the footage after a VAR intervention.

O’Neil claimed afterwards that Salisbury had informed him that the decision to award the first penalty against his side for a foul by Nelson Semedo was an error.

And the Wolves boss also felt a number of other decisions went against his side.

“Maybe tonight has finally turned me against VAR,” O’Neil said to Sky Sports. “The impact that you are having on my reputation, and the club and people’s livelihoods is massive. We should be able to talk about the game and not decisions, but unfortunately we can’t.

“I think it is a really complex [issue]. I have always been for VAR but I think it is causing problems at the moment. I think VAR has cost us there.”

Willian converted from 12 yards late on to give Fulham victory over Wolves (Action Images/Reuters)
Willian converted from 12 yards late on to give Fulham victory over Wolves (Action Images/Reuters)

Criticism of VAR and the standard of officiating in the Premier League has become a prevailing topic of the season.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has been charged by the Football Association (FA) after labelling the decision to award Anthony Gordon’s winner for Newcastle earlier in November an “absolute disgrace”.

O’Neil’s side have consistently been on the wrong end of VAR decisions this season, with the Premier League’s Independent Key Match Incidents Panel admitting errors on three occasions.

These were a missed foul by Manchester United‘s Andre Onana in their opening match, while Newcastle United and Sheffield United were both given penalties which should have been overturned. The latter spot-kick was scored by Oliver Norwood 10 minutes into stoppage time to give the Blades their only league win so far.

O’Neil’s latest frustration came after Willian’s converted from the penalty spot late on to snatch three points for Fulham. Referee Salisbury had initially waved away appeals after Harry Wilson went over under a challenge from Joao Gomes, but a VAR review overturned the decision.

O’Neil expressed his disappointment that Salisbury was not referred to the monitor after a penalty was awarded despite Semedo appearing to take the ball before catching Tom Cairney in the area, while the former midfielder also felt Carlos Vinicius could have been more harshly punished for an apparent headbutt.

“We have discussed a lot of decisions,” O’Neil said of discussions with the officiating team post-match. “Vinicius should have been off for headbutting Max [Kilman]. [Tim] Ream should have been sent off for a second bookable offence on the penalty. They are my opinions.

“Nelson [Semedo] plays the ball and doesn’t touch Cairney. The referee says he felt that was wrong and he should have been sent to the monitor. That doesn’t help me.

“So that one has been pretty much admitted that it was a mistake. The Wilson one we disagree. I feel it was soft. For all four decisions to go against us is tough to take and we didn’t deserve that.”

Fulham are now level on points with Wolves in 14th and 12th respectively.