Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insisted he remained a fan of the controversial video assistant referee system despite his team’s bitterly disappointing 3-2 defeat by West Bromwich Albion in the fourth round of the FA Cup.
Match referee Craig Pawson used the system no fewer than eight times during an eventful game at Anfield on Saturday, with VAR being trialled in English cup competitions this season.
Three of those referrals, all in the first half, proved hugely important as Pawson and VAR Andre Marriner, based in a London television studio, disallowed a West Brom goal, awarded Liverpool a penalty and then allowed an Albion goal to stand.
“I think it’s normal that it will change things,” said Klopp. “Is it nice that West Brom celebrate a goal then somebody tells them it’s not a goal? No, but I think it’s important if a goal needs to be disallowed, it is disallowed.
“Normally after a game I have to explain to you (the media) a defeat which was not deserved because we didn’t get a penalty or they scored another goal. Is it cool in January to have delays when it’s cold, especially for the players? Maybe not. But it will become smoother and more fluent in the future,” the German added.
In truth, Klopp and Liverpool benefitted from two of those three decisions and could have been facing an even greater defeat had they not done so.
Roberto Firmino handed Liverpool an early lead only for Jay Rodriguez to score twice and Craig Dawson to add a third goal in first-half injury-time via defender Joel Matip, but only after the VAR ruled Rodriguez had not been offside.
Of the other two key VAR decisions, Pawson decided Gareth Barry was offside when Dawson headed in what would have been West Brom’s third goal and then correctly judged that Jake Livermore fouled Mo Salah for a penalty which Firmino struck onto the crossbar.
Despite the victory, Albion manager Alan Pardew admitted he was bemused by what he had witnessed.
“It’s hard to know where to start,” he said after his side, threatened with relegation from the Premier League, beat fourth-placed Liverpool. “I don’t think that is what we want to see going forward, whether you are a Liverpool or West Brom fan. Firstly there is no communication from the referee to us. Like in the NFL (American football), when there is a call and they say they are going to look at that.”
Pochettino slams Spurs’ desire
Mauricio Pochettino questioned his Tottenham Hotspur players’ appetite for the fight after were nearly knocked out of the FA Cup by fourth-tier Newport County.
The Spurs manager was angered by his side’s attitude during their fourth-round tie at Rodney Parade on Saturday where they were indebted to an 82nd-minute goal from Harry Kane that salvaged a 1-1 draw.
Pochettino was unimpressed that Spurs took so long to rouse themselves against their fired-up Welsh opponents who deservedly led this match through a 38th-minute goal from Irish striker Padraig Amond.
It almost led to Spurs losing their first match since December 16, until England striker Kane’s 30th goal of the season ensured a Wembley replay.
“The team didn’t show they wanted to get into the next round, which was disappointing,” said Pochettino.
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