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The A-League needs a better narrative than just VAR

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Expert
21st October, 2018
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1148 Reads

Credit where credit is due – VAR has helped improve the atmosphere inside A-League grounds and unified previously fractured fan groups.

There was a raucous vibe inside Suncorp Stadium yesterday afternoon, particularly when it flashed up on the big screen before kick-off that the Video Assistant Referee would be in use, and not for the first time practically every single fan inside the ground started booing.

Brisbane Roar fans know exactly what to expect from the VAR, although Mariners fans got a taste of the same medicine when Kalifa Cisse’s thumping header was chalked off on replay.

Cisse was immense at the heart of the Mariners’ defence, and despite having been dominated for long stretches, Mike Mulvey’s visitors deserve credit for their battling display.

The Gosford side look like they’ll be much tougher to beat this season – even if Usain Bolt somehow gets within touching distance of the pitch – and they were good value for the 1-1 draw on a wild afternoon in the river city.

That almost 15,000 fans turned out despite a ferocious pre-match storm is testament to just how much hard work Brisbane Roar have done to reconnect with their fan base over the off-season.

And if A-League fans are going to have a common enemy this season, it’s once again going to be the VAR.

VAR

Referee Kurt Ams signals for VAR (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

I swore before the round kicked off that I wasn’t going to mention it. I made a promise to myself to stick to the positives.

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But it’s just too invasive, it takes too long to make subjective decisions, and it ruins the best part of the game – goal scoring – and renders spontaneous celebrations redundant.

And as we saw in Saturday night’s Melbourne derby, it does nothing to eliminate controversial decisions from the game.

VAR is simply more trouble than it’s worth, but despite causing more problems than it’s solved, there seems to be a feeling within the game that there’s no going back and we’re stuck with it no matter what.

It didn’t seem to cause this many problems at the World Cup in Russia – Josh Risdon’s sliding tackle on Antoine Griezmann notwithstanding – so if A-League officials want media and fans to talk about something else, they’d better find a way to sort out these issues quick-smart.

How good was the Melbourne derby at any rate?

There’s no way Melbourne City should have been awarded a penalty for Corey Brown’s challenge on Bruno Fornaroli, but as a neutral observer, I didn’t mind seeing City take all three points.

Riley McGree’s winner was superb – although the otherwise outstanding Keisuke Honda will wince at the fact he should have been tracking McGree into the box – as Warren Joyce out-thought Kevin Muscat on the night.

Keisuke Honda

(Photo by Mike Owen/Getty Images)

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Joyce looks about as comfortable on camera as Usain Bolt does with the ball at his feet, however the City coach is not being paid for his on-screen presence.

And City could give the competition a real shake this season if their impressive opening night performance is anything to go by.

I didn’t see much of Perth Glory’s 1-1 draw with Western Sydney Wanderers, but from what I did take in, both sides had their chances.

And just how did Oriol Riera sky that effort from six yards out?

Congratulations also to Mark Rudan, who has waited patiently for his chance to coach at A-League level, and celebrated with a first-up win as Wellington Phoenix downed the Newcastle Jets 2-1 at Westpac Stadium.

I have to give a shout-out to my old man too. He’s fighting for his life in hospital.

So Dad, I hope when you wake up you can read these words and know that I was thinking of you.

And I hope the A-League can find a narrative that doesn’t revolve around the VAR as well.

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There’s already enough riding on this season as it is.