We didn’t have to wait long.
Week three of the Premier League’s new campaign and we finally have the absolutely blinding howler we were all waiting for.
The irresistible force of Pep Guardiola’s ever-so-precise footballing steamroller met the immovable object of English isolationist intransigence in the form of Willy Boly’s right arm as it flicked Joao Moutinho’s cross past Ederson and into the Sky Blues goal on Saturday.
And now we all have to put up with the fallout.
Handball goal from Wolves. VAR would have sorted it.
The decision to not bring VAR into the PL this season is ridiculous…the game needs it…
— Jake Humphrey (@mrjakehumphrey) August 25, 2018
Shame VAR never caught on.
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) August 25, 2018
THE VAR DEBATE
Should Premier League clubs vote to bring it forward and use it this season? pic.twitter.com/MyV3YIRsId
— Sunday Supplement (@SundaySupp) August 26, 2018
And on and on and on…
As if to underline the absence of video replay technology, the gods threw up another, almost as outrageous stroke of good fortune for Wolves minutes later, when a clumsy challenge on David Silva in the penalty area was – presumably due to momentary blindness – missed by the referee too.
Your heart sinks when you imagine what will happen in a higher profile game when something like this goes wrong. The four horsemen could be readying their saddles if a decision is seen to cost, say, Liverpool a first title since the bubble perm went out of style.
The sheer crushing inevitability of it all is enough to shrivel enthusiasm like a brisk breeze on an exposed scrotum, so what in the name of all that is good in the game can we do to stop this interminable nonsense right in its tracks before it devours our Premier League-watching pleasure?
1 – Stop broadcasting games
The 1985-86 Division One three-way title race between Liverpool, Everton and West Ham – yes, that West Ham – is in large part forgotten because of a stand-off between the Football League and TV companies which meant no one saw a huge swathe of the season – not even highlights on Match of the Day!
Frank McAvennie scored 18 goals before Christmas for the Hammers having moved from St Mirren that summer, but no one knew what he looked like because they never saw him on TV.
What better way is there to stick our collective heads in the sand about VAR than to simply ban broadcasters from the grounds?
2 – Edit games as they happen
The Premier League has already successfully airbrushed all football prior to 1992 from history, so why not go one step further and start editing games in real time?
No one in the ground knows what’s really going on anyway, all you need to do is pre-record a few stock clips of various goals and scenarios – like a reverse Dream Team – that can be patched in by Sky or BT whenever something controversial happens but is missed by the ref.
This could be a lucrative opportunity for any long-suffering Marouane Fellaini lookalikes out there.
3 – Change the rules
Admittedly this would be a radical step, but the Premier League could change the laws of the game to allow players to stand in offside positions, score goals with their hands, and hack opponents whenever they want.
And with Brexit looming, will there ever be a more opportune time for British football to strike out alone with a whole new rule book for the game just to avoid VAR controversy? I think not.
4 – Hire Sepp Blatter
FIFA’s foremost garter enthusiast is getting on years, and has had his ups-and-downs recently, but did anyone ever do a better job of spinning the line that video replays couldn’t be used in football because it would separate the Sunday league plodders from the Premier League pros?
This is the kind of character the top flight needs to sell the absence of VAR as a positive. Never mind the millions watching and billions at stake in the Premier League versus the lack of linesmen in your local league, the game is the same at every level still! People really bought that BS from Sepp.
And if he can’t work his magic, we’re sure anything else he gets up to will provide a distraction from VAR sooner rather than later.
5 – “Cultivate” collective amnesia
The big problem for the PL head honchos is the World Cup.
No World Cup, no problem.
We don’t wish to speculate on the powerful reach of the league’s authorities, but let’s just say that we don’t think it would be beyond their scope to, I don’t know, dose the water supply with some form of agent that would wipe recent memories from people’s minds.
From a PR perspective, this is a high-risk approach, but no guts, no glory.
6 – Guillotine
If all else fails, instituting a brutal regime of terror on the part of the league authorities seems the most expedient solution to the continuing chatter about video replays.
7 – VAR
Or we could just start using VAR.
What’s the big deal?