Conor Coady and Sadio Mane give players’ view of VAR controversy

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Conor Coady was scathing in his criticism of VAR after Liverpool benefited from two key decisions to seal a 1-0 win over Wolves on Sunday evening.

The Reds’ 18th victory of the campaign pushed them back to 13 points clear of Leicester at the top of the Premier League, ending 2019 on a high.

But it was marred by a series of controversial decisions which, according to Coady, follows the narrative of big calls going against Wolves and for the top sides.

Firstly, Sadio Mane‘s opener was ruled out for a perceived handball by Adam Lallana only to be deemed legal, before Neto’s equaliser was disallowed due to a fractional offside by Jonny Otto in the buildup.

Coady, Nuno Espirito Santo and the Wolves squad were said to be furious at the officials for overlooking an alleged handball by Virgil van Dijk prior to his long pass ahead of Mane’s winner, but VAR adjudged the evidence to be ‘inconclusive’.

Speaking to Sky Sports after the game the ex-Red, now Wolves captain, vented his fury and stressed “no one likes it.”

“It’s constantly happening, it’s ridiculous. People talk about VAR, but they don’t ask us about the situation,” he said.

“For me, it’s not working, but a lot of people say they’re getting the right results and things like that.

“But it’s the fact that you give the decision and then you can change it for handball and different things, and then the offside…honestly, I can’t get my head around it.”

He added: “Decisions are killing us, it’s killing us, it’s constantly against us.

“People are telling me they’re getting the right decisions and whatever, we’re the players on the pitch and it doesn’t feel good, believe me.”

Coady explained that he had asked Anthony Taylor about Van Dijk’s handball—which based on replays was still unclear—but the referee told him it was “too far away.”

“It is affecting the game, the crowd are singing [‘fuck VAR’], the crowd don’t like it—no one likes it,” he continued.

“It’s something where it’s tough: no one asked the players about it, they came in and did a presentation at the start of the season and told us what was going to happen, but it’s still confusing.

“They don’t answer us on the pitch, they kind of us just tell you ‘we’re checking for a penalty’, ‘we’re checking for handball’, ‘we’re checking for offside’.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 29, 2019: Referee Anthony Taylor awards the opening goal to Liverpool after a VAR review during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers FC at Anfield. (Pic by Richard Roberts/Propaganda)

“OK, [I’ll say] ‘so who’s offside?’, ‘we don’t know’, ‘so how far offside?’, ‘we don’t know, we don’t get told’.

“I couldn’t tell you, honest to god, I just heard his armpit’s off again…armpits are becoming quite the rage in the Premier League at the minute!”

It is difficult to argue with Coady’s take, even though the decisions helped Liverpool to another three points, with both players and fans in the dark over bizarre calls.

The main issue comes with offside, and the ridiculous margins used against attackers, which has been seen on a number of occasions across the Premier League this weekend.

Virgil van Dijk and Sadio Mane were posed similar questions in their own post-match interview, with the centre-back bemoaning the time it takes for the reviews to be completed.

Liverpool's Sadio Mane (left) celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game during the Premier League match at Anfield Stadium, Liverpool. (Nick Potts/PA Wire/PA Images)

Mane took a more philosophical approach than Coady, no doubt due to the result swaying in Liverpool’s favour—but also, as the goalscorer, he knew Lallana’s assist came via his shoulder.

“To be honest, because I saw the ball from the beginning, I know it was from his shoulder, so when I scored I knew it was a goal so I wasn’t panicking,” he said.

“Maybe Virgil and the other guys were, but I was sure it was a goal.

“That’s it: sometimes you’re lucky, sometimes you’re unlucky, but it’s part of football.

“We have to deal with it, we have accept the final decision.”

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