With back to back victories, Aston Villa are now on a run of three games unbeaten and we’ve moved ourselves into 12th place in the Premier League table, but this weekend is a free hit really as we make the trip to the Etihad Stadium to face Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City side.
In fairness, few expect a result from this one despite City being at less than their presumed best, but we may be able to tell a lot from our attitude to the match and how we dig in.
Meeting with the press on Thursday to preview the game, head coach Dean Smith covered a variety of topics as you’d expect, but with the Video Assistant Referee technology seriously irritating Villa fans with some absolutely ridiculous decisions so far this season, our gaffer really didn’t mix his words with the Brighton and Hove Albion clash still fresh in the mind.
“I just want consistency and more clarity on the decision making. I was under the belief that subjective decisions should be left to the referee on the pitch. Last weekend made me question it even more. We’ve got David Coote as the referee and Martin Atkinson as the VAR referee (Brighton). David Coote gives a goal because he doesn’t see a foul on the goalkeeper. Conor Hourihane scores, it goes to VAR and gets disallowed by Martin Atkinson. I then go and watch Manchester United against Liverpool on the Sunday and this time Martin Atkinson is the referee and David Coote is the VAR. There’s a foul on Origi, the on-field referee doesn’t believe it’s a foul, they score and the goal stands. My question is, ‘what’s the difference’? There’s a foul on one and a foul on the other. The clarity I was given, for a subjective decision, is that it has to be clear and obvious, and neither of them were clear and obvious in my opinion.”
Smith isn’t highlighting anything that fans haven’t discussed themselves when we’ve seen decisions go against us, but almost identical situations in other games have been called completely differently.
VAR should’ve been an asset to the game to clear up those ‘clear and obvious’ errors that it was supposedly designed for, but Pandora’s Box has been well and truly opened here as referees are again showing that they simply aren’t up to the task.