Man United FC

Finally Revealed – Howard Webb explains the damning reason officials made glaring Man Utd VAR blunder

In an extraordinary behind-the-scenes look at the inner workings of Premier League officiating, Howard Webb has delved into the contentious incident involving Manchester United and Wolves.

During this incident, Manchester United managed to escape conceding a late penalty against Wolves, a situation that Chief of Referees Howard Webb attributes to a case of “overthinking” on the part of the officials.

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Webb, in his efforts to bring more transparency to the application of VAR in the Premier League, spearheads a program that sheds light on controversial decisions and the intricate decision-making process behind them. In this program, Webb, alongside former football star Michael Owen, meticulously dissects the incident that took place in the opening match of the season. This event saw Andre Onana collide with Wolves’ striker Sasa Kalajdzic deep into added time at Old Trafford. Simon Hooper, the on-field referee, initially dismissed the protests, with Michael Sailsbury advising against reviewing the incident using the pitchside monitor.

The recorded dialogue captures referee Hooper exclaiming, “No way! It’s a collision, we don’t give those.” However, the VAR intervenes, expressing doubt and confirming that Onana’s challenge on the Wolves striker was “very late” and “clumsy.”

Sailsbury ultimately concludes that this was a standard collision since both players were going for the ball, and he advises Hooper to stick with his original decision. Back in the studio, Webb promptly clarifies that this incident “should have triggered a review,” which likely would have led to a different decision.

Webb explains further, “We hear the VAR in this situation going through the reviewing process, describing what they’ve observed. They begin to consider recommending a review but tend to overanalyze it at times. Sometimes, VAR can overthink situations as they try to gauge what the game would consider normal. When he sees the collision, he believes it’s a typical occurrence and not a foul.”

He continues, “He perceives it as a collision between two players, but the key difference here is that Onana is jumping INTO the Wolves player, so it’s not merely two players colliding; it’s one player lunging into another.”

Webb concludes, “Ultimately, we did not suggest a review, and we acknowledge that as an error, which is, of course, disappointing.”

The Chief of PGMOL also acknowledges that Hooper’s initial judgment of a collision may have influenced the decision-making process at Stockley Park. “You can actually hear the referee saying, ‘It’s a collision, we don’t give those.’ Well, we don’t when it’s two players jumping into each other, but that’s not what the video evidence shows.”

Subsequently, O’Neil and Wolves received an apology, with Webb emphasizing that this policy of acknowledging clear errors will persist: “We believe it’s crucial to admit clear mistakes. When a situation is as clear-cut as this one, we don’t want it to serve as a benchmark for future cases. This one was undeniably incorrect, and if a similar incident occurs the following week, we expect a penalty to be awarded. So, it’s only right that we acknowledge errors as they happen and anticipate a different outcome next time.”

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