Monday 23 September 2019

Mark Hughes urges Premier League to introduce VAR

Referee Simon Hooper was at the centre of Saturday’s controversies.

Mark Hughes was unhappy with the officials on Saturday (Mark Kerton/PA)
Mark Hughes was unhappy with the officials on Saturday (Mark Kerton/PA)

By Ed Elliot, Press Association Sport

Mark Hughes has urged the Premier League to emerge from the “dark ages” by introducing video assistant referee technology.

Southampton boss Hughes criticised referee Simon Hooper after he disallowed a Charlie Austin goal for offside during Saturday’s  1-1 draw with Watford.

Striker Austin branded the decision “a joke” during a passionate post-match interview.

The visitors also had reason to feel aggrieved with the officials at St Mary’s as they were denied a penalty when Ryan Bertrand, who was on a yellow card, appeared to bring down Nathaniel Chalobah inside the box.

“It needs to come in. I was surprised they didn’t introduce it at the beginning of this year (season), I think a lot of people in the game were,” Hughes said of VAR.

“A lot of other competitions have introduced it very, very quickly.

“All the major sports have video reviews and for some reason the Premier League, which is watched all around the world, is still in the dark ages.”

Austin turned home Nathan Redmond’s cross in the 66th minute but the strike was chalked off because Maya Yoshida – who did not touch the ball – was standing in an offside position.

Saints were a goal up at that point thanks to Manolo Gabbiadini’s first-half opener.

The hosts survived strong claims for a spot-kick early in the second period, with Hornets players surrounding referee Hooper after he waved away their appeals following Bertrand’s mistimed challenge.

Jose Holebas then ensured Southampton’s winless run stretched to eight top-flight fixtures with an 81st-minute leveller at the end of a week when the struggling south-coast club sacked vice-chairman Les Reed and technical director Martin Hunter.

Under-pressure Hughes feels he still has the support of the club’s owners.

“There was a change made in midweek and Ralf (Krueger, club chairman) made a statement,” said Hughes.

“Clearly, we’ve got to change results in terms of getting maximum points.

“But the club and the ownership have seen every game this year and they know we are very, very close. It’s fine margins.”

Saints lost top scorer Danny Ings to injury in the first half, leading to the introduction of Austin.

Heading into the international break, Hughes is hopeful the problem is not serious.

“Danny unfortunately overstretched in the warm-up and we weren’t sure whether he was going to start the game but he wanted to,” said Hughes.

“It might be just an over-extension of the knee and it might just be a few (muscle) fibres behind the knee.

“Let’s hope it just settles down and keep our fingers crossed it’s not a hamstring.”

Watford manager Javi Gracia, whose side lost at Newcastle last weekend, feels his team have areas to work on before hosting Liverpool on November 24.

“Playing away, creating the chances we have created we need to improve,” said the Spaniard.

“Instead of speaking about the referees and all these things, I prefer to be demanding of ourselves and try to in the next two weeks improve all these things because this way is the best mentality to grow.”

PA Media

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