Wolves manager Gary O’Neil has said bad refereeing decisions are affecting “reputations” and “livelihoods” after his team were on the wrong end of video assistant referee calls in Monday’s 3-2 loss at Fulham.
O’Neil said referee Michael Salisbury admitted the decision to award the first of two penalties against his side was an error, and believes four big decisions went against Wolves.
“Maybe tonight has finally turned me against VAR,” O’Neil told Sky Sports.
“The impact that you are having on my reputation, and the club and people’s livelihoods is massive. We should be able to talk about the game and not decisions, but unfortunately we can’t.
“I think it is a really complex [issue]. I have always been for VAR but I think it is causing problems at the moment. I think VAR has cost us there.”
Three penalties were awarded on Monday night. The first helped Fulham take a 2-1 lead after Nelson Semedo caught Tom Cairney in the area.
A lengthy VAR check upheld Salisbury’s decision to award a spot-kick, even if Semedo did touch the ball as he made contact with Cairney.
The second came 15 minutes later as Tim Ream caught Wolves’ Hwang Hee-chan who scored to make it 2-2.
Fulham then took all three points in stoppage time through Willian’s second penalty – the third of the match.
Salisbury had initially waved play on when Harry Wilson and Joao Gomes came together in the box, but overturned his call and awarded a penalty after the VAR advised him to look at the pitchside monitor.
Elsewhere, Fulham’s Carlos Vinicius was fortunate to be shown only a yellow card after he squared up to Max Kilman and caught the centre-back’s nose with his forehead.
“We have discussed a lot of decisions. Vinicius should have been off for headbutting Max [Kilman],” added O’Neil. “Ream should have been sent off for a second bookable offence on the penalty. They are my opinions.
“Nelson [Semedo] plays the ball and doesn’t touch Cairney. The referee says he felt that was wrong and he should have been sent to the monitor. That doesn’t help me.
“So that one has been pretty much admitted that it was a mistake. The Wilson one we disagree. I feel it was soft. For all four decisions to go against us is tough to take and we didn’t deserve that.”
What they said – First penalty ‘extremely harsh’
Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher on Sky Sports: “Semedo caught the top of Cairney’s boot. I think it is extremely harsh. Semedo also gets a touch on the ball, not a lot but there is not a lot of contact with Cairney either.
“He stands on his big toe. We are talking the end of his toe but once the ref has given it, VAR has to find a clear and obvious error.
“VAR has a problem when the ref points to the spot. This phrase, ‘clear and obvious’, is a grey area – different people have a different opinion.”
Ex-Arsenal midfielder Freddie Ljungberg on Sky Sports: “I say no penalty. He touches he ball. I believe that is not a pen – I want VAR to say no penalty.”
Fulham captain Cairney: “[I was] controlling it quick and I got there and I have moved the ball and he has hit my ankle. At that pace it takes you down and I think it was a penalty.”
‘No doubts’ about second penalty
Fulham boss Marco Silva: “The second one is a clear penalty. The first two softer, ours and theirs. The second one is clear.”
Carragher: “No doubt it is a penalty.”
Ljungberg: “Penalty, no doubt.”
‘Extremely harsh’ third penalty
Carragher: “Again, extremely harsh. Ref has an unbelievable position, shakes his head straight away. Looks worse when slowed down.
“I actually think that is more of a penalty than the first one, but once the ref has not given it that should not be overturned – it’s not a clear and obvious error.”
Wolves continue to be on end of controversial calls
O’Neil added he felt “six or seven decisions” have gone against his side this season. He might have a point.
Against Manchester United in their Premier League opener Wolves were denied a late penalty despite United goalkeeper Andre Onana clattering into Sasa Kalajdzic. The West Midlands side were subsequently issued an apology by the PGMOL.
In September former Premier League midfielder Danny Murphy said a decision to award Luton a penalty in a draw with Wolves was “one of the worst so far this season”.
O’Neil said in October “it was scandalous” VAR did not intervene when Hwang was penalised for fouling Fabian Schar in the 2-2 draw with Newcastle.
And just before the international break Wolves conceded a stoppage-time penalty in their 2-1 loss to Sheffield United, a call which O’Neil called a “big error” on BBC’s Match of the Day.
“[It’s] bad luck that it keeps going against us,” added O’Neil after his side’s loss to Fulham. “There are bad refereeing decisions in there. I have had a good grown-up conversation with him [referee Salisbury]. I am not angry with people.
“I have two options – we keep behaving as we should and respect the decisions and tell the players to do the same, or we start saying this isn’t working for us and making some noise. I’d rather be a decent human being and be honest, but it can’t keep going against us.”
More to follow