Var will turn supporters off football, warns Mourinho
Jose Mourinho has warned that Var rules will lead to fans turning away from football, after Tottenham Hotspur were harshly denied a goal through new handball laws in a 3-1 defeat at Sheffield United.
Harry Kane had found the back of the net but video assistant referee Michael Oliver, watching from Stockley Park, ruled out the goal when the ball hit Lucas Moura’s shoulder in the build-up as the Brazilian fell to the floor. Moura had been fouled and had no control over his “assist” as his back was to the ball, which left Mourinho insisting that Var now has too much control. “I never complain with the man with the whistle because it is not the referee any more,” he said.
“I used to complain, I used to go to the fourth official, but the man on the pitch is the assistant referee and today the man and lady with the flags, they are the assistant of the assistant referees. The referee is in the office. I think the referee should always be the man on the pitch and the people in the office should just support. We are going in a really bad direction for a game everyone fell in love with.”
Sander Berge had opened the scoring when Kane’s goal was chalked off. Lys Mousset doubled the lead and Oli McBurnie added a third, before Kane pulled one back.
Mourinho was unhappy with his team’s reaction after the Var call. “We have to be mentally stronger, to cope with what happened during the game,” he said.
Chris Wilder has been due some luck with technology and Var could not have been kinder in getting Sheffield United’s bid for European football back on track, while denting the hopes of Jose Mourinho.
Mourinho was predictably and understandably furious with the call from Michael Oliver in Stockley Park, disallowing Harry Kane’s goal with the match in the balance when the ball had been kicked against Lucas Moura’s shoulder in the build-up while the Brazilian was prostrate. It mattered little to Wilder, who exacted revenge after his team were denied a win at Tottenham by the finest of offside calls when John Lundstram’s toe foiled David McGoldrick, with replays looking inconclusive.
They were also denied after Hawk-Eye technology failed completely at Aston Villa, when they had the ball in the net in their first game of Project Restart. At last, fortune went their way, with Sander Berge and Lys Mousset scoring either side of their reprieve and Oli McBurnie adding a third.
“We are the unofficial champions of Europe for decisions against us, so I totally understand their manager’s frustration,” Wilder said. “It wasn’t intentional, but we had the same with John Egan at Brighton. We’ve had the rub of the green; it’s well overdue.”
Mourinho’s chances of reaching the Champions League places were always slim, while Sheffield may have regained some of the momentum lost during the break. They have returned with their passionate fans no longer in the stands, technology failing them and a crippling injury list. To emphasise how badly Wilder’s squad has been hit, only seven of the allotted nine substitutes were named. Wilder spotted Michael Brown, the former Tottenham and Sheffield United midfielder, in front of the media seats and asked if he fancied a game.
Jack O’Connell has been the biggest loss at the heart of Wilder’s defence, while Lundstram and John Fleck were the midfield heartbeat.
In their absence, it was down to Berge to announce himself with his first goal since his club record £22million arrival from Genk. The Norwegian was playing Champions League football earlier in the season and his goal finished off a sweeping move fit to grace Europe’s elite. The opener was totally overshadowed by the Var controversy when Spurs went up the other end and Kane had the ball in the net.
In the build-up, Moura had been fouled and, as he fell to the floor, Egan’s clearance unintentionally struck him on the top of the arm. That Moura had no control over his “assist” meant nothing to Oliver looking at the replays. The ball had touched the Brazilian’s arm and the goal was chalked off. Chris Kavanagh, the referee, was urged to look at replays on the big screen, but the decision had been made. Mourinho was livid, receiving a warning that his behaviour could see him sent to the stands. His mood did not get better after Oliver Norwood, already booked, caught Son Heung-min with an elbow but did not pick up a second yellow.
Ricardo Formosinho, Mourinho’s assistant, led the protests to Kavanagh at half-time. The second goal came from a similar position to the first, with Spurs’ concentration going as Ben Osborn raced into a dangerous position. He released Enda Stevens, who crossed for Mousset to tap in. McBurnie scored at the near post from Berge’s fizzing cross. Kane pulled one back at the end, finishing from close range.
Flashpoint: Lucas Moura is adjudged to have handled, ruling out Harry Kane’s goal