Marcelo Bielsa sympathises with Leeds United fans over VAR confusion

Marcelo Bielsa says video assistant referees make football fairer but thinks it damages the game in other ways by making supporters less tolerant of officials.

Bielsa’s Leeds United and West Ham United both had goals disallowed for offside on Sunday by VAR Craig Pawson. More controversially, West Ham’s opening goal in the previous week’s FA Cup tie between the sides was approved by the VAR despite most observers, including many referees-turned-pundits, disagreeing.

The Leeds coach is normally remarkably respectful towards officialdom but he burst into sarcastic applause when Mateusz Klich’s shot was disallowed on Sunday because it touched Rodrigo on the goalline on its way into the net.

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“VAR makes the decisions more fair but it takes something very important away from the game,” he said. “That is that the crowd accepts all of us can make mistakes. It increases intolerance and the game demands the error at all levels from all of those who participate.

Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa strayed from his traditional stance at the weekend by questioning VAR. (Picture: PA)

“As there are fewer errors, the crowd has less tolerance towards the errors and the game of football is better when the crowd accept there are going to be errors.

“The players fare better when those who evaluate them give them the opportunity to make a mistake without it being grave.”

For the second week running, Klich took to social media to cheekily question a VAR decision.

After the FA Cup tie he posted a picture with a ludicrous line arcing around Jarrod Bowen to suggest VAR Peter Bankes thought he was onside when he ran across Illan Meslier as Manuel Lanzini found the net (in actual fact Bankes improbably decided the forward was not interfering with the goalkeeper). Yesterday he replied to a tweet listing his statistics from the game with the addition “* 1 goal”. Even the best goals usually have some degree of defensive mistake contributing to them, and VARs have shown they are prone to human error as much as on-field referees, they are just an extra safety net.

West Ham United manager David Moyes shoes hands with Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa before the Premier League match at London Stadium, London. (Picture: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire)

Whether Bielsa is correct to say fans were more accepting of errors before VAR is open to debate, but certainly the use of that technology has created more, not fewer, arguments about officiating standards across the Premier League.

West Ham United's Michail Antonio (right) and Leeds United's Pascal Struijk battle for the ball during the Premier League match at the London Stadium, (Picture: Mike Egerton/PA Wire)