Tottenham Manager, Ange Postecoglou, has lamented that the VAR technology was “diminishing the authority” of referees after Tottenham’s 4-1 home defeat to Chelsea featured nine separate checks leading to 21 minutes of added time.
Spurs fell to their first Premier League loss of the season despite taking an early lead through Dejan Kulusevski as Cristian Romero and Destiny Udogie were sent off either side of half-time.
Cole Palmer equalised with a 35th-minute penalty after Romero was dismissed on a VAR review for a late tackle on Enzo Fernández before Udogie saw a second yellow for a lunge on Raheem Sterling.
Chelsea struggled to break down Tottenham’s nine-man team until Nicolas Jackson struck a hat trick in the final 15 minutes to give Mauricio Pochettino a victory on his first return to Spurs after being sacked by the club in November 2019.
Asked about the heavy use of VAR on the night, which also saw five goals disallowed, Postecoglou said: “I don’t like it. I don’t like the standing around. I don’t like the whole theatre around waiting for decisions.
“But I know that I am in the wilderness with that one. I’m kind of on my own. In my 26 years, I was always prepared to accept the referee’s decision good, bad or otherwise, and I’ve had some shockers in my career, let me tell you.
“I’ve had some go my way as well, but I just want the game to be played. But when we are complaining about decisions every week, this is what’s going to happen. People are going to forensically scrutinise everything to make sure that they are comfortable, it is right, and even at the end of that we are still not happy.
“So what does that mean? It means we are going to see a lot of standing around. I just think it is diminishing the authority of the referee. You can’t tell me that referees are in control of the games. They’re not. The control is outside of that. But that’s the way the game’s going and you have to accept that and just try and get on with it.
“It seems like there isn’t a great call for us to go back to accepting the referee’s decisions for the majority. I understand goal-line technology because that’s a simple one. That came in and no one’s complained about it.”
Postecoglou went on to say that searching for a perfect game where no wrong decisions are made is impossible, while adding that some of the blame belonged on the shoulders of managers who complained about calls week in and week out.
“That’s not new. I’ve been doing this for 26 years,” Postecoglou said. “I’ve heard managers, me included, complain about decisions in the past, but we’ve got on with it. We didn’t feel the need to find some miracle cure for it.
“Like I said, I don’t think that’s a viable option because we seemed to have opened that door, allowed technology and now we want transparency.
“I guarantee you the next thing is we’ll have referees miked up and explaining decisions. There are plenty of other sports you can watch referees do that, I don’t think it is about football. Anyway, I think I’m in the wilderness on that one.”
There have been calls for Premier League managers to meet en masse with referees’ body Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) to discuss improvements to the standard of officiating, while Arsenal released a statement backing Mikel Arteta after he voiced concerns following the Gunners’ 1-0 defeat at Newcastle United on the weekend.
“Premier League managers should just manage their football clubs,” said Postecoglou. “I’ve never and I never will talk to a referee about the rules of the game. I was taught that you grow up and you respect the officials.
“You know what managers do? I’ll tell you what managers do, me included, we try to find ways to bend the rules. Tell me what the rule is, and I guarantee you’ll have a room full of managers processing ‘how can I get around this.’
“We’re not the right people. I get people keep saying this. I don’t agree with it. What I want is the best officials always being upskilled to officiate the game. But I think it is so hard for referees to officiate these days.
“Their authority is just constantly getting diminished. I grew up afraid of referees. They would be like policemen. Nowadays I guess we talk back to policemen as well. I’m old-school. I’m from a bygone era. I just love the purity of the game.
“Part of this is my problem. I’ve got to embrace it and find a way to work with it, but it goes against everything I want to try to do. I want my team to play fast, attacking, high-tempo, go-at-it football. If we get a red card, it’s a penalty against us, so what? Let’s cop it and go again. But then we have stand around for two minutes to decide, figure out whether something was offside or not.
“Let the linesman make the decision. Remember when it used to be the benefit of the doubt? Do we all remember that? For the striker? We all lived with it. The game didn’t collapse. But I’m like an old man shouting at the clouds, mate. I’ll cop it for that, but that’s who I am.”
The loss saw Spurs fail to move back into first place in the Premier League. They now trail leaders Manchester City by two points on 26 after 11 games played so far this season.
Tottenham host Wolves on Saturday, while Chelsea face Man City at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.