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Roker Ramble: VAR is here to stay & people need to get over it - it’s not spoiling anyone’s fun!

“How a goalkeeper can let in six goals in a game, make one save and come out the hero... and VAR - can we all just shut the f*** up now, please?”

Liverpool v Chelsea: UEFA Super Cup
Missed four and saved one - and they love you for it...
Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

So, where to start? Well, could do worse than highlighting the week that Adrián, Liverpool’s goalkeeper had. It started with winning the ‘Super Cup’, a marketing and money-making venture that matches the winners of the Champions and Europa Leagues - so a bit like the Charity Shield but without the charity.

And Adrián was the hero – saving the penalty that won his team the cup. Now I’m not too convinced about the heroics of goalkeepers when it comes to penalty saves, I’m more of the opinion that it’s the fault of the player taking the kick if it’s missed, but whatever - Adrián won all of the plaudits.

Which would’ve p*ssed me off if I was Sadio Mané, who scored both of Liverpool’s goals and who could’ve argued that had Adrián done his job in normal time, penalties wouldn’t have been necessary anyway.

Whatevs -Jurgen Klopp was so excited by both the penalty save and the outcome that he did his impression of the final scene from Rocky in his post match interview, the one where Stallone is shouting out for his girlfriend, and which when reported on 5Live led one listener to complain that they should’ve issued a spoiler alert because they’d now given away the ending of the film, forty two years after it was released.

Liverpool v Chelsea: UEFA Super Cup
I could’a been somebody....
Photo by TF-Images/ Getty Images

Such was the excitement amongst the Liverpool faithful at the winning of such a prestigious trophy, and probably such was the extent of the Turkish security, that there was a pitch invasion during which Adrián was kicked by one of his own fans, sustaining an ankle injury which threatened to keep him out of the next game.

Jurgen wasn’t quite so excited about this:

When we were all together a supporter jumped on us.

...and tried to both condemn and praise the actions of the fans in an attempt to get across the seriousness of the situation - without breaking the bond between the team and supporters. He eventually summed it up thus:

You see a man with his dick swinging around. Who wants to see that?

And whilst the language is a little colloquial I’m sure we can all agree with the sentiment.

But can we? I’ve been to games, usually involving Tony Pulis sides, where the sight of an inebriate frantically avoiding security whilst showing off his God-given assets would’ve provided much needed relief. However I fully concur that proximity plays a vital role in both the perception and judgement of the situation.

Miraculously, Adrián survived and took to the field against Southampton on Saturday, where Sadio Mané did his normal job of putting Liverpool ahead, and they were two goals to the good in the second half when Van Dyke played a simple back pass to Adrián.

Now at what point did it become compulsory for goalkeepers to be creative with the ball at their feet? It used to be the case that if they could pick it up, they picked it up – they’re allowed to use their hands, they should exploit the advantage, and if they couldn’t pick it up then they hoofed the ball out of the danger area.

Southampton FC v Liverpool FC - Premier League
No harm done then....
Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

But this isn’t good enough anymor. Goalkeepers have to be an extra defender, they must build the play out from the back, and I must have missed when this came in – is it a Pep thing? It certainly cost Joe Hart his job.

However, instead of putting the ball into orbit, Adrian tried something clever and kicked the ball straight to Danny Ings who passed it straight into the net - a move strangely reminiscent of Adrián’s predecessor, Karius, in the Champions League Final and who’s overall performance in said game hastened his move to the second tier of Ethiopian football.

The other big talking point this week is of course VAR and I’m starting to wish that people would just shut up about it. The toothpaste is out of the tube, the genie out of the bottle and it’s not going to go away. Not that long ago Alexis Sanchez punched a ball into the net and ran round celebrating like he’d just won the World Cup, a scene of such blatant cheating that to me questioned the whole integrity of the game.

Manchester City v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League
No, it was disallowed because your hair was out of place.....
Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

That, and similar incidents won’t happen again if VAR does its job and that’s the argument won right there as far as I’m concerned. Everything else is just applying it properly and getting used to it.

The argument, put forward vehemently by Danny Murphy on MOTD and subsequently picked up on various phone-ins is that it’s spoiling the enjoyment of the fans, in that:

...they won’t know whether to celebrate a goal in case it’s then disallowed.

Which is complete b*llocks. You could apply exactly the same argument to the linesman’s offside flag and that never stopped people going bananas only to slump back down in the seats when they realise that the flag was up.

In the final game of the Six Nations last season England scored a last minute try to win the game and the series and a hundred thousand people in Twickenham went mental. Two minutes later it was disallowed because VAR showed that part of a players boot was fractionally offside at the start of the move. Was there outrage from the assorted punditry or damning headlines in the papers the next day?

No - it’s accepted that that’s the game and it hasn’t stopped supporters from loving and enjoying the sport as much as they’ve always done. And it’ll be the same with football, so let’s stop this pointless whinging, work on getting the application sorted out, the rules changed where necessary, and move on.

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