Andy Robertson hits nail on head with VAR and ‘falling out of love’ with football

Andy Robertson has called for consistency and to keep the spirit of football, which everyone fell in love with as a kid, in mind with the use of VAR in the game.

Liverpool have not been the only team to feel the brunt of VAR since its introduction into the Premier League last season, and recent weeks have heightened the ongoing debate surrounding its use.

And after a stoppage-time penalty was awarded to Brighton on review after Robertson’s challenge on Danny Welbeck, not necessarily falling under the ‘clear and obvious’ bracket, the Scot had questioned: “when the people playing the game will have a say.”

It followed James Milner‘s plea that a “serious discussion about VAR” is needed and he felt he was not alone in “falling out of love with the game in its current state.”

When asked to elaborate on his comments on VAR, Robertson stressed the desire for consistency in decisions, and with discussions continually surrounding refereeing decisions post-match with the help of technology the left-back would prefer to rely on the naked eye.

In a detailed and honest answer, Robertson hits the nail on the head for both the perspective of a player and fan.

“Maybe not necessarily the players and managers that are involved in the football just now but I do believe that you know maybe ex-professionals, footballers, managers and referees should maybe be involved in some of the decision making, getting made just now,” Robertson told reporters.

BRIGHTON & HOVE, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 28, 2020: VAR review disallows Liverpool's opening goal during the FA Premier League match between Brighton & Hove Albion FC and Liverpool FC at the AMEX Stadium. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. (Pic by Propaganda)

“In the last maybe 18 months, two years there’s been a lot of change in the rules, England in particular and I think Kevin De Bruyne said the other week he wasn’t sure of the rules of football anymore and I think we can all can echo that.

“It’s just a wee bit uncertain just know. You know, when VAR came in we believed that there would be no grey areas, it’d all be black and white and I don’t think we’re quite getting that just now.

“I think there’s a lot of improvements to be made. We knew we had to be patient with VAR and it wouldn’t be perfect overnight but we’re now, you know, 18 months down the line and still, the same mistakes are being made.

“On Saturday I’ve got no problem if my tackle is a penalty if the rules and the referee deem that as a penalty then you know I have no problem with it.

“But I also was watching the games yesterday and I’ve seen two very similar instances on Marcus Rashford and Adama Traore that went unpunished and looked very very similar to what I had done to Danny Welbeck. And both of them weren’t a penalty and mine was.

“So for me either all three have to be a penalty or all three aren’t penalties so you know there that’s where we’re getting a difference, and I think it’s frustrating for teams to see certain decisions in different games going against them and they think it’s very similar.

“I think that’s where we’re maybe struggling a wee bit and we’re just looking for consistency, I think consistency is the best thing and we believed we would get that with VAR and we’re maybe not getting it just now.

“Hopefully that can come in time because I think the game is crying out for it and too many games are passing by that, you know you’re either watching on tele and the people in the studios are still discussing a referee’s decisions or are still discussing what could have been and what couldn’t have been.

“I didn’t think that was possible after VAR but it’s now becoming possible and for me, if that’s still going to be a discussion and still going to be a thing then I would much rather leave it up to the referee’s naked eye.

“It is much easier to accept mistakes then when there has been so much technology around it because when referees make mistakes you know, it was just what they had seen in that moment.

“We go out in football parks and make mistakes all the time so they were no different and it was easier to take accept but now that you have technology and so many cameras that they have all angles and they have a second in referee that’s watching the game from a tele then it just makes it that bit more difficult I think.”

And while getting the right decision remains important to all those involved, but sapping the emotion and the ‘in the moment’ feelings need to taken into account.

“It is affecting the players but I think it’s more affecting the whole game,” he continued. “I used to love going to football games and just being in that moment and being able to celebrate a goal or be able to watch the game and I think that’s just taken out the game a wee bit.

“You’re waiting sometimes two, three minutes to see if the goal is onside or offside, for me if it’s that tight, then leave it to whatever decision they’ve made.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Wednesday, January 1, 2020: A supporter holds up a sign "RIP football VAR is here. Fans Boycott?" as two stewards stand over him during the FA Premier League match between Manchester City FC and Everton FC at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“There’s lots of things you can go on about but Milly’s caption or whatever on his tweet I think was echoing what a lot of never mind footballers, I think a lot of what football fans are feeling.

“A lot of people that I’ve spoke to aren’t enjoying watching football as much as they once did because it’s constantly in review, it’s constantly on a screen and you’re still not getting the consistency that may be we’re looking for.

“For me, I agree with Milly and I agree with what he’s saying and I think a lot of footballers and a lot of fans would agree also.

“Football is a great game, it’s a great game which we fell in love with and still are in love with and it’s important we don’t lose that fact because I’m all for change.

“I know times change and I know we have to move with the times but it’s important to remember the key values of football and the key values of our sport which made us fall in love with and I think it’s important to keep that in our minds.”