VAR is creating more big moments in football, despite remaining a source of frustration for supporters and commentators alike, according to Match of the Day’s Conor McNamara.
McNamara, who was speaking at Leeds Trinity University, told students that the time to complain about VAR has passed and his focus is now firmly on describing the action as it happens – regardless of whether VAR may later intervene.
Despite VAR being subject to widespread criticism since its Premier League debut in 2019 – McNamara believes the use of technology is enhancing the qualities that define professional football.
Talking at Journalism and Media week, McNamara said: “Football is about the emotion, the excitement and the big moments – and VAR just brings in more of those moments.”
VAR was at the centre of McNamara’s most recent match covered for BBC’s Match of the Day – a 1-1 draw between Leeds and Leicester at Elland Road.
Leicester midfielder Ademola Lookman had a second half strike ruled out by VAR for offside, much to the frustration of the visiting fans, but the commentator believes that despite the goal being disallowed, the intervention by VAR did not take away from the atmosphere of the game.
He added: “It is really frustrating when it is your team but if you take yesterday, the Leeds fans when that goal was disallowed – they celebrated as loud as if it were a goal for themselves.”
McNamara has taken this positive attitude towards VAR into his commentary.
Whereas some may be tempted to withhold their excitement when the ball hits the back of the net, McNamara feels his commentary must match what is happening in the moment, and not be influenced by the prospect of a VAR review.
He said: “When the whole stadium is going crazy, and people are celebrating – if you are the only person going ‘ooh!’ … I think it spoils the moment.
Lookman’s disallowed goal v Leicester, it was a hairs breadth of a distance, a tiny margin – so at the time I am giving that as a goal.”
The use of VAR is still subject to much criticism – Jurgen Klopp voiced his frustration last night after Liverpool suffered their first Premier League defeat of the season at the hands of West Ham.
The match finished 3-2 to the Hammers, with Klopp left feeling aggrieved when VAR allowed West Ham’s opening goal despite a supposed foul on Reds ‘keeper Alisson.
Klopp also felt that West Ham full-back Aaron Creswell should have been shown a red cad for a rash challenge on Jordan Henderson – however VAR again did not intervene.
Despite such criticism, McNamara believes the future for VAR is bright.
He added: “It is definitely a work in progress. I think the technology will improve and get better – and in a few years’ time we’ll all feel a bit better about it.”