VAR debate: Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville demand changes after Aston Villa equaliser ruled out

Ollie Watkins thought he had rescued a point for Aston Villa at West Ham when turning home Matt Targett's cross, only for a borderline VAR review to rule the goal out for offside; the decision puts the technology in the spotlight once more

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Watch Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher's VAR debate

Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville believe a serious rethink is required about the way in which VAR is being applied in the Premier League.

The Sky Sports pundits were speaking on Monday Night Football after Ollie Watkins saw a late equaliser controversially ruled out by VAR as Aston Villa were beaten 2-1 by West Ham.

It was just the latest in a long line of contentious VAR decisions since the technology's introduction - there were only millimetres in the offside call and Watkins appeared to be pulled back by Angelo Ogbonna moments earlier - and it prompted plenty of debate after the game.

Carra: VAR not helping referees

"I was a massive fan of VAR," said Carragher. "They were bringing it in to help the game and I was defending it at the start as there were teething problems, but now we're at the stage where the majority of people in this country haven't bought into it.

"I don't think people are enjoying football as much. The moment that sums it up for me is David Marshall saving the penalty for Scotland, a massive moment in his career and he couldn't celebrate as he was waiting for the referee. If I could go back, I would use VAR in a different way."

Carragher believes the decision to disallow Watkins' goal on Monday night shows how painstaking VAR offside reviews are causing referees to miss other incidents.

"Ollie Watkins has got goalside of Ogbonna but he's got his two arms around him," he added. "That's a penalty - or maybe you could argue it's outside of the box - so it shouldn't be offside.

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"Watkins is trying to get away from him, but the fact he's being fouled has meant he's offside.

Offside call
Image: Watkins was deemed to be offside by VAR

"He does the right thing and stays on his feet, but the fact he's being fouled has meant he's offside because he's got his arm out.

"This was brought in to help referees, and let's not forget we were all calling for it, managers were calling for it when they were getting big decisions wrong. Referees need help.

"But I actually think, in some ways, VAR has exposed referees. I don't think it's been a big help to them. They're having second looks at incidents and they are so obsessed with something that they don't see the bigger picture.

"They are so obsessed with looking for that offside, that they miss the foul. It goes back to the incident with (Jordan) Pickford and (Virgil) van Dijk. They are so obsessed with seeing whether someone is offside that they actually miss the foul."

"This nonsense of going to the screen has got to stop," Carragher added.

"It doesn't make any sense. I know for a fact that when a referee goes to the screen, he is not looking at it seeing if he has made a mistake, he is getting told by Stockley Park where the infringement is. I've spoken to a referee and he's told me that's the case."

Neville: Referees programmed like robots

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After Ollie Watkins looked to be fouled in the build-up to the disallowed goal against West Ham, Gary Neville claimed that strikers now need to go down when they feel contact in order to get decisions

Neville disagreed with Carragher about referees consulting pitchside screens before finalising decisions, but agreed that the application of VAR needs to change.

"Going to the screen isn't the problem," he said. "What's happened now is that referees' authority is being questioned, their credibility is being questioned and they are even doubting themselves.

"It's the application of technology that is the big problem in this moment in time, and the rules themselves. The handball is a nonsense. The offside rule about the arm is a nonsense. Those two rules need changing. At that point, VAR will become more acceptable.

"The referees, when they go over to the screen, they've got to have the nerve to say to that guy in Stockley Park, 'No, I'm sticking with my decision'.

"That's the problem at the moment. They look like they have been programmed like robots. They need to chill out and relax, and go over to the screen with the feeling that they are comfortable with their decisions.

"But they're not. They are briefed like mad, they are programmed to the nth degree, they are frightened to death, and the biggest problem I come back to is that the fans hate this thing, so they've got to change it."

Rice: Changes to VAR needed

Ollie Watkins has now scored only two of his six penalties across his career
Image: Watkins suffered a frustrating night and earlier missed a penalty

Declan Rice provided a player's perspective after the game, insisting he and his team-mates were relaxed about VAR but admitting changes are required ahead of next season.

The West Ham midfielder called on the technology to be scrapped when the Hammers were denied an equaliser in controversial circumstances during a meeting with Sheffield United in January, but he admitted it is easier to accept those decisions when they go your way.

"The lads are laid back about it," he told Sky Sports. "Some weeks we get decisions, some weeks we don't.

"There need to be some tweaks to it. I don't know how we get around it but there needs to be a change going into next season because I don't think they'll change it mid-season.

"The referees are on the pitch and we are crowding around them, so I imagine from that point of view they've got a load of loud-mouth players that are giving them a little bit.

"So they just leave it down to whoever is at Stockley Park and obviously we can't argue with what that decision is going to be."

Moyes: Referees must toughen up

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West Ham manager David Moyes claimed VAR was correct to rule out Aston Villa's late goal

West Ham manager David Moyes insisted the decision to rule out Watkins' goal was the right one but admitted the deliberation took too long and added that it is down to referees to be more selective with their decisions, while also being frustrated by the decision to award Villa a penalty when Trezeguet went down in the area.

"After seeing it [the penalty decision] again, [Ogbonna] does tug his jersey, but would that make the player go down the way he did?" Moyes told Sky Sports.

"We're encouraging the players to do it, because they know there's reward, and we're now looking for these kind of decisions.

"I would like the referees to toughen up a bit and stop giving every decision. I don't know how many free-kicks there were tonight but it felt like far too many."

He added: "We want them to get it [VAR] right if they're going to do it, but we want it to be a bit quicker. It took forever, I don't know why it took so long. I've had one quick glance at it and it looked offside to me when it happened.

"If they were looking for something else, I don't know, but those small things went for us tonight. We'll take what we can get and move on."

Smith: No use complaining about VAR

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Aston Villa manager Dean Smith was confused by the decision to rule the goal out

Dean Smith, meanwhile, could only laugh about the decision which went against his side and insisted he will not lose sleep over VAR.

"We've had a penalty we've missed, and a goal disallowed for a part of his body which can't put the ball in the net anyway," the Aston Villa manager told Sky Sports.

"The goal Ollie scores at the end, they've given it as offside for his arm, but the only reason his arm's out there is because he's getting fouled. He either scores or it's a penalty. I still don't understand that.

"I'm okay if it's a red line and it says he's offside. That's the rule. But if his arm's up there because he's getting fouled, that's a penalty.

"I won't go home and think about VAR. It frustrates everybody, but there's no point in getting worked up about it. It's happened, I can't do anything about it now."

Ref Watch: It is a subjective call

Analysis by former Premier League referee Dermot Gallagher:

"There are a number of issues. First and foremost, when the ball goes in the net, the first priority is to check the offside. It was very, very tight and they have to be precise, and we saw how diligent they were.

"Once they decided it was offside, they then checked the buildup and whether there was a foul and the VAR [Stuart Attwell] came to the conclusion, in his opinion, that was not a foul and did not impact on Watkins and therefore it was decided the goal was ruled out for offside.

"If a defender or a forward does that to an opponent in the penalty are, he runs a massive risk. It is a subjective call, but Peter Bankes obviously did not see that on the pitch, there is no doubt about that because the on-field decision was 'goal'.

"It goes back to the VAR, he has the responsibility then to check the offside and then check what happens in the buildup and in his opinion, he did not think it was a foul. So that is why the goal was ruled out and no penalty given."

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