‘What is the policy in VAR’ : Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag

With Manchester United being held by bottom-placed Southampton to a goalless draw at Old Trafford in the Premier League on Sunday evening, the highlight of the match was Brazilian midfielder Casemiro being shown the red card in the match. The Erik ten Hag’s team was playing in front of the home crowd after a 0-7 drubbing by Liverpool at Anfield and missed their chances to score against Southampton post Casemiro’s red card.

In the 34th minute of the match. Casemiro’s right boot studs first hit the ball before it rolled over the shin of Southampton’s Carlos Alcaraz in a defending move and Casemiro being handed a yellow card initially. Later the VAR termed the Brazilian pitch side and ruled it as a red card. It resulted in a almost teary eyed Casemiro exchanging hugs with Alcaraz with the Manchester United players and coaching staff in disbelief over the decision. “What I think is [about] the inconsistency – players don’t know anymore what is the policy and we see it with Premier League yesterday, Leicester-Chelsea [two penalty appeals], the VAR is not coming on the line [intervening], today it’s coming on the line.” Ten Hag said after the match.

Manchester United’s head coach Erik ten Hag holds the ball during the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester United and Southampton at Old Trafford stadium in Manchester, England, Sunday, March 12, 2023. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

It was the Brazilian’s second red card in eight matches this season and the Brazilian had never received a red card in his career during his time with Real Madrid and Porto. The Manchester United manager was also critical of the VAR not being interested in two first half penalty appeals by his team. The first instance was a challenge by Southampton’s Kyle Walkers-Peters challenge on Bruno Fernandes and the second was a handball by Southampton player Armel Bella-Kotchap. “Then it’s two penalty situations, but they don’t come on the line, especially the first one was a clear and obvious handball so what is the policy?” Ten Hag further said.

The Dutchman also termed the referees in the Premier League as ‘inconsistent’ and termed the decision as a debatable one. Casemiro was earlier given a red card during Manchester United’s draw against Crystal Palace in January. “It is inconsistent, the referees are coming at the start of the season with a policy: we are the Premier League, we want intensity and Casemiro, across European games, over 500, he never had a red card but now, twice. He plays tough but he’s fair. Same as against Crystal Palace, so it’s very debatable,” said Ten Hag.

He also found the freeze framing to be an issue in Var and urged the referees to be more consistent in their decisions. “When you freeze it [today’s challenge], it looks bad. Everyone who knows something about football knows what is bad, what is fair and Casemiro is a fair player. Tough, but fair and it shows over 500 games in big leagues and he was never sent off. He’s disappointed. Definitely freeze framing is an issue. If you do it like this you have to be consistent across all games. It’s a little bit the same as against Crystal Palace: when you saw the incident you should then have sent off three or four players and not only one if you’re really consistent,” said the manager.

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