Gary O’Neil says Wolves’ controversial defeat to Fulham on Monday Night football has “finally turned me against VAR”.
The Wolves boss re-watched several incidents from their 3-2 loss at Craven Cottage with the match officials and revealed referee Michael Salisbury admitted to two errors.
O’Neil said the referee conceded VAR should have advised him to overturn his decision to award Wolves their first penalty when Nelson Semedo got his foot to the ball before making contact with Tom Cairney.
Speaking to Sky Sports, O’Neil said: “Nelson plays the ball and doesn’t touch Cairney. I’ve watched it back with the referee and to be fair, he says he thinks they got it wrong and he should have been sent to the monitor.
“It doesn’t help me and it doesn’t help all the fans that have travelled all this way to help their team. It doesn’t help the players, who are feeling frustrated again.”
Willian converted the penalty to make the score 2-1 to Fulham, and he repeated the trick in stoppage time to seal the win when VAR advised Salisbury to overturn his decision not to give a penalty when Joao Gomes made contact with Harry Wilson.
“The one on Wilson, we disagree on a little bit,” said O’Neil. “He thinks there’s enough contact there to give a penalty. I think it’s really soft.”
O’Neil also felt Carlos Vinicius should have been sent off for making contact with Max Kilman’s head when he confronted the Wolves captain, and that Tim Ream should have received a second yellow card when he fouled Hee-Chan Hwang for the visitors’ penalty.
On the decision not to give Ream a second booking, O’Neil said: “We had an interesting debate. He thought the pen was enough.
“[One of my staff said] by the letter of the law Ream should be sent off.”
O’Neill also revealed the officials admitted Vinicius should have been dismissed, saying: “He said it was a soft headbutt – I said that was crazy. We can headbutt people on a football pitch as long as it’s deemed soft or not hard enough?
“They’ve since come out after that and said by letter of law we got that one wrong – that should be a red card.
How VAR has haunted Wolves this season…
- August 14 – Wolves were wrongly denied a stoppage-time penalty on the opening weekend of the season in their defeat at Man Utd
- September 23 – Luton were awarded a controversial penalty as Wolves were denied victory in a 1-1 draw at Kenilworth Road
- October 28 – Newcastle were wrongly awarded a penalty in the 2-2 draw at Molineux after Hee-Chan Hwang was deemed to have fouled Fabian Schar in the box
- November 4 – An independent panel reportedly unanimously agreed Sheffield United should not have been awarded a stoppage-time penalty in their 2-1 home win over Wolves
- November 27 – Wolves boss O’Neil reveals referee admitted VAR should have advised him to overturn first Fulham penalty in 3-2 defeat at Craven Cottage, and that Carlos Vinicius should have been sent off for headbutting Max Kilman
“Do I need to tell Max to roll around on the floor when someone headbutts him? I don’t want to. Do I want my players to surround the referee for a second booking for Ream?
“You can argue that two of them could go against us but all four go against us. It’s a tough one for the lads, supporters and myself to take.”
Wolves had already had four controversial penalty decisions go against them this season, and O’Neil added: “We’ve been here a lot this season. We didn’t deserve that.”
O’Neil: I wanted VAR but it’s causing problems
O’Neil believes Wolves have already been denied seven points by officiating errors this season, saying: “Bad luck keeps going against us. I’ve had a real, grown-up conversation.
“I’m trying to remain calm. I’m not angry with anybody. I’m not abusing anyone. It’s just a conversation around, ‘come on guys, it’s six or seven points that have gone against us’.
“I’m managing a big football club here – the difference you’re making to my reputation, the club’s progression up the league, people’s livelihoods is huge.
“It can’t be with all the technology, in the best league in the world, it can’t be OK. We should discuss the game really but unfortunately we have to discuss this.”
O’Neil has previously spoken to Howard Webb, the head of referees’ body PGMOL this season, but said: “I won’t be calling anybody. What can I do?
“I’ve got two options. I keep behaving in the way that I should and make my players behave in the way we should. We respect everybody and the decision-making.
“Or we start to go, ‘that’s not working. We’re going to have to make some noise’. They are the two decisions I have.
“I’ve been really honest. I’d rather be a decent human being and answer things honestly but things need to get better.
“I can’t accept us being on the wrong end of decisions as often as we are. That needs to get better.”
O’Neil conceded he may be at the end of his tether with VAR, explaining: “I’ve always been for VAR but I think it’s causing a big problem at the moment.
“Maybe tonight has finally turned me against VAR. I thought it would probably help but it doesn’t seem to be.”
Carra: Ref harsh to give first Fulham penalty
Sky Sports’ Jamie Carragher on Fulham’s first penalty:
“I think it’s extremely harsh. We speak about wanting the on-field referees to make the decision. There’s no doubt Semedo gets something on the ball. He stands on his big toe.
“You can look at lots of different angles. I think it’s harsh. I’m not a massive fan of VAR slowing things down. We’re talking about a toe. After the ref has given the decision, VAR have got a problem because we’re in the territory of ‘clear and obvious’.
“This phrase ‘clear and obvious’ is a grey area. Different people have different opinions – how far does it have to go before it’s a howler?”
Carra: VAR wrong to advise ref to give second Fulham pen
Sky Sports’ Jamie Carragher on VAR helping to give Fulham’s second penalty:
“Again, it’s harsh. The referee has got a great position, sees it and shakes his head straight away.
“When you slow it down it looks worse. When you watch at full speed, like the ref did from five or six yards away, it’s harsh.
“I think it’s more of a penalty than the first one – but the problem for me is, after the ref doesn’t give it on field, the decision shouldn’t be overturned. That’s my feeling.
“I don’t think it is a penalty. The ref has a great view. VAR thinks that’s a clear and obvious error. I don’t see it.”