Yet another day, yet another goal disallowed for Manchester United, and the frustration among Red Devils fans is palpable. The dreaded three letters, VAR, continue to haunt them every time they watch a game.
Seven minutes into the match, United supporters finally had a reason to cheer as they witnessed a rare positive start to a Premier League away game. A well-placed free kick was delivered, and the young Argentine talent, Alejandro Garnacho, cleverly eluded his marker to set up United’s leading league scorer, Scott McTominay, who confidently slotted the ball into the net.
It was a promising beginning to a Saturday lunchtime kick-off—or so it seemed. The away fans erupted into celebration, but their joy was short-lived when VAR announced it was conducting a review. The technology was tasked with determining whether defender Harry Maguire had interfered with the play.
As the referee for the day, John Brooks, headed to the off-field camera to inspect the action, a familiar sense of dread swept over the fanbase. Another disallowed goal was imminent.
Every team feels aggrieved by decisions, and they often believe they are on the wrong end of calls, especially when they’re going through a tough period. However, this season, United has experienced more than its fair share of VAR disappointments, and it’s becoming a recurring nightmare.
According to ESPN, prior to the Fulham match, Manchester United had already suffered a net loss of three decisions overturned by VAR. Now make it four. No other team in the league has faced more VAR setbacks.
ESPN’s report states that United had five decisions go against them before the Fulham game. Alejandro Garnacho, Rasmus Hojlund, and Jonny Evans had already experienced goals being disallowed earlier in the season, and Scott McTominay became the fourth Red Devil to join the list.
Furthermore, the decision involving the Erling Haaland penalty was yet another case of VAR intervention. In fact, the only VAR decision that favored Manchester United was the overturning of a penalty for Arsenal against Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
It’s worth noting that while opposition fans may cry foul and claim that Manchester United often receive favorable decisions, an ESPN article from the end of May 2023 highlighted the number of disallowed goals each team had in the previous season, offering an interesting perspective.
In the entire 2022/23 season, only three teams had more disallowed goals than the four United has already accumulated. Liverpool led with six, followed by Bournemouth and Aston Villa with five each. In contrast, Manchester United had only two disallowed goals in the league that season. However, the current season’s tally of four disallowed goals will likely surpass Liverpool’s total from the previous term.
The most infuriating aspect for the majority of fans, not limited to Manchester United supporters, is the inconsistency in VAR decisions. Ironically, earlier in the season, Manchester City had a goal allowed against the same opposition (Fulham) on what was, at best, a similar call to Harry Maguire’s supposed interference.
Regardless of one’s sympathy for Manchester United’s predicament, it’s evident that English Premier League faces genuine issues with VAR’s implementation. The football authorities in the country must find a solution before it discourages people from the game they hold dear.