It strikes me from the outside looking in that there is a determination from the PGMOL for referees to appear as argumentative as possible. When the Video Assistant Referee system was first mooted, it was reported that Michael Oliver, one of the most respected of officials stood up and declared that he wouldn’t be having one of his colleagues correct him over the decision that he’d made. This, in a nutshell, is everything that is wrong with modern refereeing. I personally am of the opinion that the right decision should be reached when looking at any particular incident. The entire justification for VAR coming in in the first place was around the pace of the modern game and the fact that referees will, naturally, miss something. Owning up to this fact and admitting that they’ll get some things wrong would allow most of us to have a heap more respect for the men in the middle. Instead, they act as though they are completely infallible and refuse to have the game ‘re-refereed.’
Off the top of my head Arsenal, Liverpool (2x), Wolves, Palace, and West Ham had fixture altering decisions go against them. All reviewed by VAR and not corrected because the VAR ref is too afraid to overrule the match ref. It's utterly ridiculous.
— LFC Fans Corner (@LFCFansCorner) August 21, 2023
This attitude leads to wrong decisions being made and then those wrong decisions being doubled down on. The Alexis Mac Allister decision was a genuine disgrace and the fact that no one in football thinks that he should’ve been sent off, bar Mike Dean apparently saying it was the right decision, perhaps to escape from any accusations of bias from the Merseysider, tells you that they got it wrong. For the official on the day to make a mistake is understandable, given the speed that the tackle occurred at. For the VAR to then watch it again on video and say it was fine is horrendous. Anyone expecting the decision to be overturned on that basis, though, hasn’t been paying attention. We shouldn’t forget after all that Liverpool have had Mancunian Paul Tierney take charge of our matches more than any other referee. The wagons circle, mistakes get covered up. Until the PGMOL decide that the right decision is more important than the egos of their members, nothing will change.
Is A Trophy Out Of The Question?
One of my biggest concerns about Liverpool in recent years has been the team’s collective brainlessness at times. There was a match last season, I want to say it was against Wolves, where we conceded a goal only for the Video Assistant Referee to rule it out. Almost immediately, we gave the ball away in a really dangerous position and conceded virtually straight away. It was maddening because of how easily avoidable it was. I thought it was mainly just because of the state we were in last season and that we would be unlikely to see it again, only for us to do almost exactly the same thing against Bournemouth over the weekend. We conceded a goal, VAR ruled it out for offside and then we presented the Cherries with another excellent opposition to score, which they duly bit our hand off for. It was so incredibly stupid and frustrating to watch, given that we know how intelligent most of these footballers are. If you have dodged a bullet, you make yourself safe rather than reloading the gun, but that’s not how the Reds seem to think.
That’s Liverpool right there. Possession in a promising position, conceding a decent chance 10 seconds later. Hmmmm.
— Andrew Beasley (@BassTunedToRed) August 13, 2023
Does that sort of brainlessness mean that a trophy is completely out of the question? We were lucky that we were playing Bournemouth at the weekend, rather than a more dangerous opponent who might well have moved to put us to the sword. Similarly, our opening day game was against a Chelsea side that is, at best, entirely incoherent as a unit. That being said, our attacking play is sumptuous at times and in Dominik Szoboszlai we’ve got a genuine player on our hands. There is no question that we’ll be able to score a bagful of goals as the season goes on, but we definitely look wide open at the back in a way that means that we’ll concede more than a few. That doesn’t necessarily rule us out of any cups, given the manner in which such games are often quite open affairs anyway, but it does mean that we’ll need to be absolutely on it in an attacking sense. The manager seems to be happy enough in that regard, so might he have his sights on some silverware?
I Still Think We Can Win The League
I am, generally speaking, an optimist. Don’t get me wrong, I do catastrophise from time to time, such as if one of my parents calls me I’m convinced they phoning to tell me the other one has died, but I do look at the positives when I can. If Liverpool are 1-0 down heading into stoppage time, for example, I’m usually fairly certain we’ll still win. With that in mind, I refuse to accept that we can’t win the league. Yes, 115 Charges FC are what they are and Pep Guardiola will be determined to buy the club its fourth title in a row, setting the record. Arsenal have improved and Saudi Arabia FC will want to be part of the conversation if they can cope with the demands of Premier League and Champions League football at the same time, but if Jürgen Klopp is willing to take the cups and Europa League less seriously then we can effectively have just one thing to think about. I do think a lot of people have forgotten how good we were just two years ago.
“Our aim and ambition is to go and win the league. We’re not going to be shy about that and nor should we." 🏆
Trent Alexander-Arnold outlines Liverpool’s targets for the season. pic.twitter.com/nUFGwLxNU2
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) August 13, 2023
This manager, and most of the players, are still more than good enough to challenge for the top honours. Virgil van Dijk looked close to his best in the two games we’ve played so far, whilst I’m of the opinion that Alisson Becker remains the best goalkeeper in the world. It is good news that Luis Diaz appears to have added the goals to his game that we’ve all been craving, albeit leaving the pitch with a knock on Saturday. Mo Salah isn’t likely to outscore Erling Haaland, but that doesn’t mean that isn’t going to get close to another 20-goal season. Winning the league can be as much about luck as anything else. It might well turn out towards the end of the campaign that playing Chelsea before Mauricio Pochettino has been able to get his ideas across to his players meant that we got them out of the way at just the right time, for example. Is it realistic to expect the Reds to try to win the title? Of course not, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. Just keep winning games and see where we are when it matters.