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The Warm-Up: Thanks to VAR, no-one argues about football any more

The Warm-Up: Thanks to VAR, no-one argues about football any more

09/01/2019 at 06:58Updated 09/01/2019 at 08:11

Plus: Another award for Mo Salah; ominous words for Marco Silva; and an excellent chant from Newcastle.


How we've missed you. VAR

Not for us the simple thrill of seeing something exciting happen, then getting a near-immediate decision (probably right, occasionally wrong) on whether or not said exciting thing was legitimate.

No! Much better to have the whole incident play out, then stop the game to spend minutes analysing each nanosecond of what went before. And then for the decision (slightly more probably right, still occasionally wrong) to be subject to a further Zapruder-style dissection by an aggrieved party.

That's the sport The Warm-Up fell in love with!

At the moment a VAR-assisted Michael Oliver decided that Harry Kane was, a) onside, and b) fouled by Kepa Arrizabalaga, Sky's Alan Smith uttered perhaps the most misguided commentary in the history of broadcasting.

Hear him at 0:42 in this clip!

"I don't think you can really argue."

Oh, Alan. Really? About a tight offside? With the camera at an angle? With the line drawn on the pitch and not taking account of players' body lean? And who knows whether the freeze frame was taken at the precise moment the ball was played?

Well, it turns out people can - and did - argue.

While the angle Oliver saw does appear to show Kane just onside, Chelsea quickly found another view that suggests he most definitively was not.

In any sane world this is where we'd all agree that it was an extremely close call. If eleventy billion replays can't offer clarity, we just have to be grown-ups and accept that football is not a game of cast-iron certainty.

Mauricio Sarri is no such adult - why, he's just like a Portuguese pre-teen!

Sarri contrived to blame the linesman for putting the Chelsea players off.

" It was important that the linesman stopped the run, he didn't follow the ball, so he had a big influence on our defenders, and at the moment I think the English referees aren't able to use the system."

The only thing in football more satisfying than beating your rivals is beating them unjustly. In that spirit, Mauricio Pochettino played some masterful mind games by agreeing with Sarri that VAR is a crock.

" I am unhappy to win the game like this ... I don’t like VAR and after watching it at the World Cup and in another league like La Liga, I see nobody is happy from day one that they started to use it. It is a system that sometimes kills the emotions. I didn’t celebrate tonight because we were waiting five minutes."

Amen, Poch.

Kane, who definitely does play to the whistle, offered platitudes: "VAR is there for a reason and I'm sure they got it right." Sure they did, Harry. Sure they did.

If I'd known there'd be organised fun, I wouldn't have turned up

Mohamed Salah retained his African Player of the Year award ahead of Sadio Mane and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and celebrated with an awkward little dance.

Pretty good, but the awards' standout moment remains Aubameyang's tuxedo at the 2016 edition.

Eyes emoji of the day

Everton majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri at the club's AGM:

" We did our homework and put a big bet on Marco (Silva) and we stick with him. He has our total support ... I look at the table and it is just not good enough. We need to go up the table, we need to utilise the fans' impatience to drive the club."


January 6:

January 8:

Just saying.


Heroes: Sunderland (and Newcastle)

Zero: (Some) football fans



" I was 25, riding the wave of success but one day, before a Serie A match, I went to Ivano Bordon, the goalkeeper coach, and told him: 'Ivano, get [No. 2 goalkeeper Antonio] Chimenti to warm up and play. I'm not feeling up to it.' I had suffered a panic attack and was in no state to play the match."


And tune into Quest for highlights from both semi-final first legs from 10:30 tonight! (Freeview 37, Sky 144, Virgin 172)