In a new directive for greater transparency on the big decisions across the Premier League, refereeing chief Howard Webb has revealed why Wolves were not awarded a penalty late in their defeat at Manchester United.
Webb was speaking on the PGMOL’s first Match Officials Mic’d Up show, joined by Michael Owen in the studio for the 26-minute programme.
One of the most controversial decisions was Simon Hooper’s decision not to punish Man United goalkeeper Andre Onana for a reckless collision with Wolves’ Sasa Kalajdzic.
‘No way,’ audio from referee Hooper shows him saying, ‘it’s like collisions, we don’t give those.’
VAR Michael Salisbury then interjects: ‘Delay, delay, checking a possible penalty. I want to view this, because I think Onana collides into, he tried to win the ball but he’s late. He goes to challenge for the ball and then makes aerial contact with the Wolves player.
Man United goalkeeper Andre Onana went unpunished for this stoppage time collision
A new show has revealed the conversation audio between the match referee and the VAR
Refereeing chief Howard Webb has now revealed how VAR wrongly failed not to give a penalty
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‘It’s late and it’s clumsy in my opinion. Dawson wins the header. It’s late, it’s very late on the aerial challenge.’
There is then a debate about the fact that it is Craig Dawson who wins the header, not Kalajdzic, who Onana clatters into.
‘Because the Wolves player doesn’t head the ball – Dawson wins the header – it’s a normal collision. Check complete,’ Salisbury adds, which satisfies Hooper.
Webb swiftly contacted Wolves in the aftermath to apologise for Hooper and Salisbury’s mistake – which cost Wolves a golden opportunity of a point at Old Trafford – and he has now expanded on exactly how Gary O’Neil’s side were failed by VAR that night.
‘We hear the VAR in this circumstance going through the checking phase and he’s describing what he’s seen,’ Webb said.
‘He starts to go down the road to recommending a review, but he overthinks it a little bit.
‘Sometimes VAR can do that. They’re trying to identify what the game would expect and when he sees them come together, he knows that can happen and it’s not a foul.
‘He sees it as a collision and two players coming together – the difference with this one, is that Onana jumps in at the Wolves player so it’s not two players coming together. It’s one going into another.’
In a wide-ranging discussion, which went beyond Wolves’ misfortune at Old Trafford to include debates around Kai Havertz’s overturned penalty this weekend against Manchester United; Anass Zaroury’s red card; John Egan’s handball penalty; Virgil van Dijk’s red card; and Nathan Ake’s goal v Fulham.
The show was produced via Premier League Productions and broadcast on both Sky Sports and TNT Sports.
Micahel Owen joined Webb for the show, which will be broadcast on both Sky and TNT Sports
While the process should give fans a clearer idea of a VAR’s decision making in the moment, the call on Onana remains a major frustration to Wolves fans.
In the sixth minute of added time at the end of the match Onana raced out for a cross from the right – but failed to get near it and instead hammers into Kalajdzic.
In his protests boss O’Neil was booked and Webb is determined to front up to errors, such as this one.
He added: ‘In the end we didn’t recommend a review…we should have done, we acknowledge that as an error, which is of course disappointing.
‘We think it’s important we acknowledge clear errors. When it’s clear like this one, we don’t want people to benchmark against this situation.
‘This was clearly wrong – if this happens the following week, we expect a penalty to be given. So, I think it’s only right we acknowledge errors when they happen, acknowledge that wasn’t correct; and we expect to see something different next time.’
Referee Hooper and VAR Michael Salisbury were both dropped following the mistake after failing to realise that United goalkeeper Onana had fouled Kalajdzic in the 1-0 loss.
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