Yet he has now been in the Premier League for two seasons, and the number of fans in favor of VAR has dropped significantly.
If it’s not the time spent making the screened calls that is the most irritating, it’s the microscopic pixel-scale offside decisions that neither players nor field officials could hope to spot, made using technology that is not up to the task. .
As with everything in football, there are times when fans don’t care about VAR’s presence, and that’s obviously when a decision goes in their team’s favor.
But for Liverpool fans this has been all too rare, and especially when it comes to presided over goal decisions.
Rival fans liked to whip up a ‘LiVARpool’ story, suggesting that much of the reason the Reds won the title was because of a helping hand from officials.
Still, they only had two more VAR reversals that were for them rather than against them in 2019/20 (according to ESPN), and the difference was only one in their favor at the time they were. confirmed as champions.
However, this form of impartial refereeing was heaven compared to what the Stockley Park side in tandem with their colleagues on the pitch have dealt in Liverpool this season.
Jurgen Klopp’s side got at least seven knockdowns in their favor in 2020/21 – down from five in the previous campaign – but an incredible 13 came against them.
As there were 126 in total, that means more than 10% of all VAR knockdowns that have been implemented in the Premier League this season have been directly damaging to Liverpool.
Take sanctions, for example. There were 29 awards as a result of the video review, and the Reds were one of five teams to receive none (the other four finishing ninth or below in the standings).
To compound their misery, three were awarded against them – in matches with Sheffield United, Manchester City and Brighton – who were only second behind Tottenham’s total of four.
And as Chris Kavanagh reviewed Everton’s penalty award at Anfield and stuck with his decision, another kick was thrown against the Reds despite some intervention from VAR there too.
But if you think those numbers look bad, let’s review the goals that were awarded or denied.
There were 42 goals excluded by VAR in the Premier League this season, which equates to around two per team. One would expect the teams that attack the most to suffer most on this front, but Liverpool have lost seven goals.
That’s exactly one-sixth of the overall total, and at least three more than every other club in the division has suffered in this campaign.
Jordan Henderson had a 90th-minute winner at Goodison Park ruled out for offside. Mohamed Salah had a trio of goals – and therefore his Golden Boot hopes – dashed, with Sheffield United, Brighton and Tottenham the beneficiaries of the decisions in question.
Roberto Firmino, Diogo Jota and Sadio Mane also had one denied by VAR, although only the latter’s effort among those three – in the 1-1 draw at Amex Stadium – came in a game the Reds did not ‘failed to win.
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There were three disallowed goals at the other end to soften the blow a bit. Son Heung-Min, Timo Werner and Callum Wilson all had goals ruled out after the video team verified what had happened.
But with James Maddison’s goal in Liverpool’s 3-1 defeat to Leicester awarded through a VAR review, there have been eight goal reversals that have benefited the Reds’ opponents and only three in their favor.
That net position of minus five was the worst in the league, and three ahead of the next toughest made by the teams.
Before you start to lather in your mouth, grab a fork, and head for Stockley Park, it’s important to remember that some of these decisions were undoubtedly correct. The fact that very few of them were in favor of Liverpool does not automatically make them wrong.
But in a season where the Reds’ injury chance was abysmal, then having to fight against those many narrow margins as well was incredibly unfortunate. Even a neutral decision difference, let alone a favorable difference, would go a long way for Liverpool in 2021/22.