St James’ Park erupted when Matty Longstaff scored the winner against Manchester United on Sunday. But while thousands jumped up and down and cheered, I remained slightly reserved. The fear of VAR overcame me once again.
Allan Saint-Maximin’s through ball to Jetro Willems was a fantastic pass, but from where I was sat, it looked like the Dutchman was potentially offside. Having seen loads of goals ruled out already this season because of a marginal offside call, I was worried we were going to be the latest club to fall victim to the video assistant referee.
But enough time passed and it was clear that Willems must have been onside. Longstaff had scored and we actually were 1-0 up against Manchester United.
The atmosphere was excellent inside St James’ Park, with fans hailing another local hero. But I was just annoyed with myself that I’d let the fear of VAR ruin a truly special moment.
Is this just my problem? Or were other fans worried that the goal was going to be chalked off? I felt the same against Tottenham and Liverpool when Joelinton and Willems scored. Maybe I just have so little faith in this team this team that I assume they must be offside. How else could we have found so much space?
So far, VAR hasn’t hurt Newcastle. If anything it’s helped us, as Mike Dean’s decision not to award Harry Kane a penalty could easily have been overturned.
But inside St James’ Park, fans haven’t got a clue what’s going on. Nothing shows up on the screen like it does at some other grounds when a check is happening.
VAR doesn’t seem to be cleaning up our game or helping the referee. We haven’t seen a single decision overturned despite some absolute howlers missed by referees. All VAR does is look at ridiculously narrow offside decisions and scare fans into holding back their celebrations in fear of looking like a fool.
Technology seems to be here to stay, but is it improving the game for fans?