Newcastle Jets coach Ernie Merrick reckons the VAR has lost its bite after watching two crucial incidents go unpunished in 2-0 loss to Perth Glory.
The VAR was called into action when a Ronald Vargas thunderbolt cannoned into the arm of Glory defender Matthew Spiranovic in the 82nd minute on Sunday.
Replays showed Spiranovic kept his arm tucked in as he turned his body to protect himself, with the VAR deciding no penalty should be awarded despite the ball touching the player’s lower arm.
But the incident that really got Merrick’s blood boiling was when striker Roy O’Donovan was bundled over by Glory defender Shane Lowry in the 70th minute.
That incident wasn’t officially reviewed by the VAR, and Merrick wasn’t happy after the match.
“The guy in the VAR was having a cup of tea. He didn’t have a chance to look at it. He probably fell asleep,” Merrick said.
“With the handball, it just depends which referee you’ve got. Some give, some don’t.
“If it was against us, it would be given. We’ve had four penalties against, and we haven’t got a penalty this year.
“But the Roy O’Donovan one – he was wrestled to the ground, pretty blatant.
“I don’t know who looked at it. I think the guy in the VAR doesn’t really change any decisions nowadays. They’ve gone from one extreme to another.”
Merrick wasn’t the only person upset with the VAR over the weekend.
Melbourne City coach Warren Joyce was left angry that a Phoenix player wasn’t flagged offside in the lead-up to David Williams’ fifth-minute goal in Wellington’s 1-0 win.
Joyce was stunned the goal wasn’t overturned by the VAR.
Adelaide also had a gripe with the VAR over an incident in which the video review system upheld a decision not to award a penalty for a handball.
The busy January period is now over for A-League sides, but the jostle for spots is just heating up.
Glory boosted their lead at the top of the table to four points with their convincing win over Newcastle.
Victory moved into second spot with their 2-1 win over Sydney, while fourth-placed Melbourne City are now just one point clear of both Adelaide and Wellington following their loss to the Phoenix.
The seventh-placed Jets are 11 points adrift of sixth spot, and Merrick acknowledges his side face a huge battle to get back into the finals picture.