London (AFP) – Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho backs the controversial video assistant referee system because it helps officials make “fair decisions” but says the system needs adjustments to preserve the flow of the game.
United will play in a match in which VAR is being trialled for the first time when play at Huddersfield in Saturday’s FA Cup fifth-round tie.
VAR has been used in the competition already this season, most notably when West Brom won 3-2 at Liverpool in the fourth round, as well as in the League Cup.
The system reviews key moments linked to goals, penalty decisions, red card incidents and cases of mistaken identity.
Asked for his views on VAR, Mourinho told United’s in-house channel MUTV: “When people ask us if we like it, if we don’t like it, if we agree with it or don’t agree with it, I think honestly it’s a question for the referees.
“They want to perform the best they can. They don’t like to make mistakes. And sometimes they make mistakes because it’s a human mistake and you cannot go over it unless you have some technological support.
“So if the referees are happy with that technological support, then, yes, let’s go for the VAR. I think, from my perspective, I like the feeling.”
But the United boss said tweaks were needed to ensure the technology does not interrupt the rhythm of the game.
“Of course they need adjustments,” he said. “They need to make sure that they don’t change the dynamic of the game too much, the emotion of the game too much — people waiting a couple of minutes to know if they can jump (and celebrate) because it was a goal.
“But from my professional perspective, I like the feeling of a right decision is coming. It’s a penalty or not a penalty, it’s handball or not handball, it’s a red card or not a red card. I think a fair decision is a feeling that I like.”
The VAR system took centre stage during the Liverpool-West Brom clash on January 27. It was used three times in the first half, including the first time in English football that a referee used a pitchside television replay.
Although it eventually led to correct decisions being made, questions were asked about the process, particularly the amount of time it took.