Chris Wilder believes VAR is damaging football’s entertainment, and claimed referee Chris Kavanagh should not have allowed Manchester City’s opening goal last night after running into John Fleck.
It was the second of two controversial moments in Sheffield United’s first away defeat since January 19, a 2-0 reverse.
With the game scoreless, Lys Mousset had a goal disallowed for a very marginal offside.
“The first goal was a game changer,” said Wilder of Sergio Aguero’s 52nd-minute strike after Kavanagh’s collision.
“I’m not saying we would have gone on to win it.
“We felt comfortable, the shape of the team was good out of possession.
Nobody knows where they’re drawing the lines from, they’re all blurred, it’s not going back onto his foot.Chris Wilder
“The rule about the ball hitting the referee came in over the summer but (although it did not touch Kavanagh) he’s affected the game.
“He invited me into his room afterwards for a private conversation. He was very honest and open. I’ll leave it between me and him but put two and two together.
“I believe he should just blow up and I don’t think there would have been a big debate about it from opposition players or manager. If it had happened the other way around, there might have been a little bit more to say.
“I don’t think it hit the referee but he’s right in the midst of it. Does he affect the play? Does he affect John Fleck? Do we want referees playing a part in the opening goal, just as much do we want people drawing silly blurred lines on feet and arms and elbows and hands when it comes off the end of the foot? No.”
The video assistant referee system has been a constant theme of the Blades’ season. The end of Mousset’s boot was found to be fractionally ahead of the last defender, but the system’s margin for error is greater than that, so quickly can top professional players move between the frames of a video.
“It must have been eight or nine (goals disallowed) over the weekend,” complained Wilder.
“Nobody knows where they’re drawing the lines from, they’re all blurred, it’s not going back onto his foot.
“I always thought all the rules brought in were about making sure the best players can do their stuff but they can’t if they pass the ball brilliantly like Fleck did and Mousset gets in on a brilliant run.”
Both managers were complimentary about the Blades, whose unbeaten away run equalled the top flight’s longest by a newly-promoted side since World War Two. “They stuck to the plan,” reflected Wilder. “You have to be disciplined and selfless. You have to have something going the other way and I think we did.”
Pep Guardiola praised the way “one of the most physical teams in the Premier League” made his side work. “I already knew, but today confirmed why Sheffield are in the position they are in the table, why they had not lost away until this match,” he said. “If the first ‘goal’ had not been offside it would have been incredibly difficult to beat them.”
Report: Page 3