Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho fears football is going in the wrong direction after his side had a goal controversially ruled out by VAR in the 3-1 defeat at Sheffield United.
Blades boss Chris Wilder said the technology was a farce after Harry Kane’s equalising strike was chalked off for handball in the build-up.
Lucas Moura’s arm appeared to brush the ball as he fell under a challenge.
“The referee is in the office,” said Mourinho.
“I never complain at the guy with the whistle because it’s not the referee any more.
“I think the referee should always be the man on the pitch and the people in the office should just support and assist.
“That’s not the way it is. The referee who is not very good on the pitch, we cannot expect that he’s good in the office.
“We’re going in a direction that’s really bad for the beautiful game, the game that everybody fell in love with.”
‘We cannot mentally die from Michael Oliver’s decision’
Tottenham struggled to find their rhythm after that decision as the Blades eased to victory thanks to goals by Sander Berge, Lys Mousset and Oli McBurnie, before Kane grabbed a late consolation.
Mourinho, whose side are now nine points off fourth place and seven off sixth, said his players need to be stronger mentally to deal with decisions that are difficult to take.
The former Chelsea boss added: “We have to do better, we have to be mentally stronger to cope with what happened during the game.
“We cannot mentally die after Michael Oliver’s decision.”
‘A farce of a decision’
Sheffield United have been on the wrong end of some VAR decisions this season and Blades boss Wilder felt the Tottenham equaliser should have stood.
“There is no deliberate handball in there,” he said.
“I think it is a bit of a farce rule at the moment. We’ve been the victims of a couple of those decisions. I still don’t think it is the right decision if I am being honest.
“One has gone for us and we will gladly take that but I hope the game isn’t dominated by that decision and is looked at as a decent performance from us.”
But did VAR get it correct?
As frustrating as the decision was for Tottenham, VAR was not in the wrong. It was correctly applying the rules relating to handball as they currently stand.
Ifab, the body that determines the laws of the game, states: “Accidental handball by an attacking player should only be penalised if it ‘immediately’ results in a goal or an obvious opportunity for the player and/or their team to score a goal (i.e. following the handball, the ball travels only a short distance and/or there are very few passes).”
Whether Tottenham should have been awarded a free-kick for a foul on Moura that led to him handling the ball is another issue.
‘Show common sense’ – what pundits said
Ex-England striker Alan Shearer told Match of the Day: “The VAR referee must be embarrassed to have to go back to the referee and tell him he has to disallow it. The law is awful.”
Former Newcastle and Tottenham midfielder Jermaine Jenas also added on Match of the Day: “VAR is supposed to help the game but it is making it far worse and they need to figure it out.”
Former Sheffield United midfielder Michael Brown, watching the game for BBC Radio 5 Live, described it as a “strange” but “correct” decision.
“Sheffield United will feel finally VAR has come back and helped them,” he said.
“It’s a strange one. The rule is there but Lucas Moura didn’t know anything about it. Is it the correct decision? Yes it is. But Spurs are unfortunate not to score.”
Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp described it as “one of the worst decisions I have ever seen”.
He added: “I get the letter of the law but we have to show common sense. It is accidental, why can’t we show common sense?
“It is difficult for Michael Oliver, it is the letter of the law, but that is a horrendous decision.”