Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville faced off against VAR in a heated on-air discussion after Ollie Watkins had a goal in the timeout denied for offside in Aston Villa’s 2-1 loss to West Ham Monday night.
The former Brentford forward, who previously missed a second-half penalty, put the ball aside to get what would have been a deserved run for Dean Smith’s men.
However, after a two-and-a-half-minute deliberation, Watkins was adjusted to be past the last Hammers defenseman, Angelo Ogbonna, and the effort was called off.
Speaking after the game, Carragher admitted he was a ‘great defender’ of VAR before he was introduced to the Premier League, but said that was no longer the case due to his impact detrimental to fans across England.
He said on Monday Night Football: “The offside decision… obviously when you make the lines, you make the lines. You actually look at how long these shirts are … would it have made a difference? You need to shorten them in some ways.
“He’s actually caught by the defender – he’s trying to get rid of him. The fact that he’s trying to leave him means he’s offside. It’s the frustrating thing now with VAR when they take offside.
“It’s gone from the jersey now because the handball rule has been changed. But you look at this and it could actually be a penalty. There was a similar one with [Patrick] Bamford for Leeds against Crystal Palace a few weeks ago.
“I was a big fan of VAR before he came. And what I mean by that is I think the people who brought VAR weren’t trying to ruin the game, they were trying to help the game.
“I hardly said anything about it at the start and almost defended him because there were bound to be some startup issues and criticism, but give it a chance.
“I just think we’re at the stadium with VAR that he’s doing good things and bad things, but the majority of people in this country haven’t bought VAR. I don’t think being enjoys football so much [as a result].
“I’m telling you what is most important to me with VAR is that I felt sad watching a game recently. The goalkeeper [David Marshall] makes a save during a penalty shootout.
“It was perhaps the greatest moment of his career and huge for Scotland to make it to a tournament, but he couldn’t celebrate back then!
“He must have stopped and waited and looked at the officials and thought ‘please God make sure my foot doesn’t go out of that line.’ He couldn’t celebrate that moment and I think the hat is a big thing with the supporters now.
“I was a big supporter of VAR but if I could go back or definitely use it in a different way I think I would, without a doubt.
Meanwhile, Manchester United legend Neville still wants VAR to be used, but believes some of the laws need to be changed as a matter of priority to appease fans.
“I was for VAR and still am for,” Neville said. “I am against some rule changes. I don’t think the offside rule is clear enough. The new rule of handball, which to be honest we were all against, created more problems for the game.
“I think with the offside, do we want specific decisions? Yes. Footballers and coaches for 25, 30, 40 years have complained about referees and a lack of precision.
“These referees are not good enough, they cannot follow the game. So we introduced VAR for the right reasons, because the game is so fast and we want precision with so much stake.
“What I would say is that it needs refining and needs to be improved.
“The biggest problem I have with it right now, and I’m going against it, is that the fans hate it. I have a problem with that because at the end of the day the game should be about the fun of the fans.
“I’m for it, but I know the fans hate him, and that’s my concern. I want precision. I played football at the top and complained about referees for years so I want precision.
Smith said he couldn’t understand the VAR’s belated ruling against his camp.
“The goal that Ollie scored at the end, they gave him an offside for his arm, but the only reason his arm is there is because he’s fouled,” said Smith.
“So he scores or it’s a penalty. I still don’t understand this. I agree if it’s a red line and he says it’s offside because it’s the rule.
“But if his arm is up there because he’s fouled, it’s a penalty.”
West Ham midfielder Declan Rice admitted he was grateful to VAR after Watkins’ late effort was ruled out.
Rice said the longer the delay in the VAR decision-making process, the more likely it is that an offside decision will be directed against the team that appears to have scored.
“I have to be,” Rice told Sky Sports. “Matty Targett had a great cross and luckily Ollie Watkins is offside his margins are tight.
“Angelo [Ogbonna} was saying it was a foul, I didn’t really see a foul, so to get the offside, and obviously so late on, it was probably an equaliser, so to come away with the three points, we’ve got to be happy.”
“When a VAR decision is made quickly you know it’s going to be goal, so the longer we were stood around on the pitch, we knew it was going to be offside,” he said.
Rice would, however, like to see some changes made to VAR in readiness for next season.
“To be honest the lads are pretty laid back about it,” he added. “Some weeks we get decisions and some weeks we don’t.
“The Liverpool game at the weekend – Milner came out and said it needs a change and I think there does need to be some tweaks to it.
“I think there needs to be change going into next season because I don’t think they’re going to change it this season.”