The introduction of VAR was designed to reduce pressure on match officials, but as David Coote’s role in Liverpool’s 2-2 draw at Everton proved, it is just the opposite.
For perhaps too long, the Premier League deliberated over whether or not to follow the rest of Europe and bring in video assistant referees to aid the English top flight.
And since it has been brought in, it has proved not the technology that has stifled its success, but those employed to use it.
Saturday brought two more high-profile incidents which go against the use of VAR in the Premier League, and the man in the booth at Stockley Park was Coote.
Coote is relatively inexperienced at the top level, having only been officially promoted in 2018 and refereeing 30 Premier League games so far, along with 19 more as VAR.
His time in the top flight has not been short of controversy, and many of his most questionable decisions have come during Liverpool games – including in the 1-1 draw with Man United a year ago, when he was in the VAR booth.
That game saw Marcus Rashford’s opener stand despite a VAR check on a foul from Victor Lindelof on Divock Origi in the buildup, with Klopp describing it after the game as “a goal which shows all the problems with VAR.”
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer even agreed that United “were on the right end of the VAR decisions.”
Four months later, and Coote was forced to apologise and admit making the wrong decision when deeming Giovani Lo Celso’s stamp on Cesar Azpilicueta in Chelsea‘s 2-1 win over Tottenham in February accidental.
Coote was subsequently omitted from the Premier League‘s roster for the following weekend, and partly due to the season’s three-month break, did not serve as referee or VAR in another top-flight game until June.
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“What’s the point in having [VAR]? What is the point in having you?” Robertson asked Coote after the game, in an animated rant alongside Jurgen Klopp.
“Wait until you see it. Wait until you go in and see that and you’ll go, ‘How the f*** is that not a penalty?’.
“You didn’t see f***ing anything. You didn’t see anything the whole game apart from f***ing booking him in the last minute.
“F*** me. What’s the point of having you in the middle? What’s the point of having you? Eh? F*** me, honestly.”
Klopp himself added: “[That was] really bad, I have to say. We have to be honest.”
There have been muted suggestions of a vendetta against Liverpool by some supporters, but ignoring that, there must be question marks over how many big decisions Coote has fluffed.
It would be no surprise, given the furore over his contribution from Stockley Park, if Coote is stood down for another weekend – and that may be a signal of the top flight accepting culpability.