Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola believes VAR is here to stay but feels the Premier League must adapt how it applies the use of technology
City found themselves on the wrong end of a marginal call on review during their 2-2 draw against Tottenham on Saturday.
Gabriel Jesus’ stoppage-time winner was disallowed after replays showed the ball deflected off team-mate Aymeric Laporte’s arm before the Brazilian controlled and thrashed past Hugo Lloris – sparking jubilant celebrations at the Etihad Stadium.
But, as was the case when City were eliminated from the Champions League last season against Spurs, the joy proved short-lived.
During the first half versus Mauricio Pochettino’s men this time, Rodri was not awarded a penalty despite replays appearing to show he was man-handled by Erik Lamela in the area – with Guardiola joking “VAR was taking a coffee”.
But, despite that complaint, he cited an initial hard line against shirt-pulling during the 2016-17 season and the subsequent relaxation as evidence the Premier League can plot its own path as it plays catch-up with the rest of Europe’s major leagues in implementing VAR.
Asked whether use of technology should be suspended in the wake of the latest controversies, Guardiola replied: “No, no, no. We have to continue.
“I remember the first season when I arrived here that in the boxes when you touched like this [pulled a shirt] it was a penalty. After they re-adapted.
“But if it is hands, it’s hands. For me it is not clear, when I watch it from different angles it is not clear.”
The result should probably have been beyond doubt despite Lamela and Lucas Moura twice pegging back goals from Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero, as City dominated with a shot count of 30-3 – or 30-2 according to Guardiola’s assertion that Harry Kane’s audacious attempt from halfway during the second period “is not a shot”.
— Manchester City (@ManCity) August 18, 2019
The City boss has no doubts about his side’s capacity in front of goal despite an early setback in their quest for a third consecutive Premier League crown.
“I don’t know how many goals we scored last season. I don’t have doubts that we have a team to score a lot of goals,” he said.
“Obviously, if we arrive with 30 shots [it is] to score five or six. We play for that.
“Of course you have to improve but I don’t have doubts that we can score a lot of goals. In the last two seasons we were the team with the most goals. I don’t have doubts about that.
He added: “I said to the players it’s emotional and frustrating to lose two points in that way but football is like this. It is the only sport where you can shoot 30 and the other two and you can draw or lose.
“That’s why this game is fascinating.”
Guardiola expects centre-back John Stones to be out for around a week to 10 days after a thigh injury left him unavailable to face Tottenham.
Kevin De Bruyne, who suffered a succession of injury problems last season, was back to his brilliant best at the weekend with a pair of wonderful assists.
“We are incredibly happy for him because last season he suffered being injured,” said Guardiola.
“We are happy he is back and can help us to play.”
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