‘Judge the action, not the injury,’ urges Pochettino
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino hit out at the decision to send off Son Heung-min for the challenge which led to Andre Gomes’s horrific broken ankle.
Pochettino thanked Everton’s players – led by captain Seamus Coleman – for consoling Son in the Spurs dressing room after the incident at Goodison Park.
Coleman, who missed a year’s football after a similarly awful injury in 2017, spent several minutes with the Spurs player to reassure him that he was not to blame.
Son was distraught after seeing the repercussions of the challenge on Gomes, which was deemed a red following a VAR review. Referee Martin Atkinson booked Son in the immediate aftermath before the seriousness of the injury was obvious. The Premier League released a statement to explain Son was sent off for “endangering the safety of a player which happened as a consequence of his initial challenge”. Pochettino was incensed his player was so severely punished.
“He was devastated,” said Pochettino. “The players from Everton came to console him. I want to thank the captain, Coleman. He came to speak to Son. In the moment it was a little bit confusing – everyone knows on the pitch what happened – but no one believed it was intentional.
“When we watched on TV the outcome was very bad and we feel very sorry for Andre. The action was very bad luck.
“It was dreadful for Andre, but judge the action, not judge what happened after. We are very disappointed with this type of situation on VAR – it is there to help the referee, not confuse the situation more. The referees need help. They need to go and check on the screen.
“In the end the decision changed everything. We were in control, then we conceded the goal.
“The VAR need to check if it was a bad tackle and not a bad injury. It was clear that it was never the intention of Son to create the problem. It was unbelievable he received the red card. I never complain about the VAR, but please – use it in the best way. It is going to change the spirit of football.” Pochettino said he led the warnings about mayhem if VAR was introduced and poorly applied and thinks English football is paying a price. “I was the first or only coach in the Premier League that was against the VAR,” he said. “This type of situation, that you need to help because the decision of the referee was yellow card. It is creating a big, big mess. For me, I love that the referees are the boss on the pitch.”
Marco Silva spoke of the sadness in the dressing room after Gomes’s injury, but the Everton manager also echoed Pochettino’s despair with the officiating.
Although they claimed a spirited 1-1 draw, Everton were denied a penalty after a lengthy review of a handball by Dele Alli. The delays created a toxic atmosphere in the stadium, all sides of the stadium protesting against the use of technology. “The penalty took three minutes to decide,” said Silva. “All of us love football and we play for the football fans. I am sure they did not like what they saw, so many moments to stop the game.
“Last week we lost a game with a penalty coming from nowhere and today completely the opposite.
“When you see a second half like today it is difficult to understand.
“Forgetting the game, it was tough for our players. All the players are sad. Andre will have all the support he needs. He will become stronger as a footballer and a lad.”
Everton, meanwhile, said last night that they were investigating allegations of racial abuse by a supporter during the match.