It was a Cup final - not a PGMOL training exercise.

Published: Monday, 26 February 2024

It’ll make a great quiz question in years to come - ‘which player scored two perfectly good goals in a Cup final, but his team only won 1-0?’

Madness. Absolute madness. Football has grey areas. It always has had. And I’ve got news for the guys trying to turn it black and white - you can’t. You will kill it in the process.

I’ve never felt as flat as I did this weekend when the mood spoilers and nit pickers ruled out van Dijk’s first goal for Liverpool. Why are the operators of VAR always looking for ways to disallow goals? Their first instinct should be to find ways to give them - it’s what we pay to see. Goals.

There was nothing wrong with van Dijk’s first header. It was a Cup final for fucks sake - not a PGMOL training session. You do not - you can not - disallow a goal in a game of that magnitude for the offence that John Brooks spotted. Ok - by the letter of the law Endo made himself active by blocking Colwill after starting that phase of play offside. That’s exactly what Andy said on beINSPORTS as we watched the game. But come on - common sense should’ve prevailed. Touch guys. Feel. Please.

We see that happen every week - game in game out. We see worse from every set-piece Arsenal take. Watch Ben White the next time they have a corner. It’s part of the game. It’s a ‘grey area’. Football has lots of them. It’s not perfect. We don’t want it to be perfect.

Chris Kavanagh dutifully did as we knew he would once he’d been called to the monitor. Brilliant. Well done guys. Top marks - except that’s not what VAR was introduced for. The idea was that the technology would be used to correct clear errors - like Henry’s handball v Ireland. That was the birthplace of all this nonsense.

Did anyone complain about van Dijk’s goal? Nope. It was a perfectly good goal. Can you imagine that storm that would’ve broken out had van Dijk not got Kavanagh and Brooks out of jail with his 2nd goal. Incidentally, I’ve been critical of van Dijk in the past. He’s never struck me as a leader. I think he’s too selfish to be a ‘team’ captain - but he was enormous on Sunday.

I should add that Chelsea have cause to feel hard done by as well. Their goal should’ve stood. Again - what are we doing ruling a goal out because a hint of a shoulder is apparently offside? It really is a load of bollocks.

What Kavanagh and Brooks should’ve used the technology for was to send Caicedo off. That challenge on Gravenberch was a disgrace. There’s no place for that in the game. It met all the criteria for a red - except Kavanagh thought differently and his hapless mate in VAR did nothing. We asked why not? We were told by the matchday centre that Caicedo’s challenge was more of a ‘slipping motion’. What? Where does it say that in the laws of the game?

I’ll give Kavanagh an out - perhaps he wasn’t up with play? After all, this is a ref who started his season late because he failed fitness tests. But Brooks? You were looking at the pictures man. I wonder what both were thinking when Gravenberch was stretchered off?

Doubtless Kavanagh and Brooks will be lauded at the multi-million pound HQ designed to kill our game by their pen pushing bosses - but they won’t by people who love football - or by those who once did the job they now do a whole lot better. Read Mark Clattenburg and Keith Hackett in The Sun and The Telegraph respectively today (Monday).

In the end justice was done and Liverpool won the game. They deserved to. They were the better team. Chelsea didn’t ’bottle it’. They just weren’t good enough. And poor old Poch watched it all pass him by. I said Sunday - and I’ll repeat it here - he wouldn’t win the lottery if you gave him the winning ticket. Here’s a thought - how about Chelsea give the job to JT? Now he does know about winning.

Kavanagh and Brooks weren’t alone in their bungling this weekend. How did Harry Maguire stay on v Fulham? Michael Oliver should’ve sent him off. When he didn’t Rob Jones should’ve asked him to have a look at the challenge again - except Jones was scared to. No-one questions Oliver. He’s made sure of that. He hates being challenged by refs who he regards as inferior to himself - and that’s everybody in his view. So what’s the point of VAR when he’s reffing? This problem needs to be addressed. And it is a problem - I don’t make these things up.

Top marks to Tony Harrington, who did his job properly at Brighton. Gilmour had to go for his lunge on Onana. The irony is that it wasn’t as bad as Maguire’s or Caicedo’s.

It was good to see Oliver Glasner get off to a winning start at Palace, but as for the nonsense that he ‘took the handbrake off’ - he didn’t. Palace beat Burnley. Every team beats Burnley. It was a perfect game for Glasner. It’s just a pity that Steve Parrish didn’t give ot to Roy Hodgson. It would’ve been a perfect and fitting way for Roy to sign off.

Ten Hag was at it again. His players apparently ‘forgot their jobs’. Nothing to do with them not being good enough then Erik? Or the team you picked? Or the changes you made?

And I read about a £5000 match ticket at Chelsea. It’s the most expensive ticket ever. For your money you get to sit behind the Chelsea dug out for the game v Utd on April 3. I’m not joking. Perhaps they are? I wonder how many takers there will be? My guess is not many. £5000 to watch a team that is a shadow of what it once was - against another faded giant. No thanks.