The referee consults the VAR monitor.

What does Sir Alex make of VAR?

Tuesday 28 September 2021 10:01

Sir Alex Ferguson has given his views on the much-talked-about Video Assistant Referee system, which he sees as one of football’s biggest developments since his retirement.

The 79-year-old is, of course, still a keen observer of the Reds and has experienced the technology being used already at several matches this season.

Speaking on the latest episode of UTD Podcast, the former United boss suggested that he preferred the game not to be disrupted and the previous method of leaving the decisions up to the on-pitch referee.

“It’s a different world. It’s only eight years [since I retired]. Look at VAR. To me, the most talked about issue in football,” our legendary former manager said.

“And yet, on Saturday [during the 4-1 win over Newcastle], VAR was not used once. Supporters will enjoy that better, the game not stopping for two or three minutes at a time.”

VAR was written into the Laws of the Game by IFAB in 2018 but discussions over its introduction had been developing over a number of years and during the end of Sir Alex’s time at United.

“It was the genesis with UEFA at the time when I was in my last year. They asked the managers about it, about doing the VAR,” Sir Alex added.

“They experimented in Italy in the Super Cup, I think, and I don’t think any manager actually supported it. The game’s alright, you know?

“The problem with VAR and any of the things it changes, FIFA come up with ideas. Like having the ball in the centre of the pitch at kick-off and you have to pass it back. You tell me what good that does? Or passing the ball in the penalty box from the goalkeepers? It’s like gimmicks.

“The goalline technology, that stayed in and no-one’s complained one bit about it.

“Now there’s your situation with VAR being there and it’s not going to go away. We’ll eventually get used to it and stop complaining.”

While judging whether a ball has fully crossed the line involves a subjective decision, VAR is a lot more complex.

And Ferguson admits he would prefer it if the referees had the autonomy, even if they may get the occasional decision wrong.

“The controversy in terms of decisions is always going to be the ref’s performance. For a hundred years, we’ve moaned and groaned about the referee and decisions but we get on with it.

“It happens and the referee’s got to make a decision. He may be right, he may be wrong. Most of the time he may be right but he sometimes gets it wrong. There’s nothing wrong with that.

“In VAR, the interpretation is who’s sitting up in that box, discussing it. I think it now shows itself that they get it wrong, too.”