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21st Feb 2024

VAR official picked up on Ref Mic calling out “weak” Tottenham player

Patrick McCarry


“Agree with that.”

Match Official Mic’d Up is the Premier League’s new initiative to bring greater transparency to the VAR process, and how big in-game decisions are made.

So far this season, we have seen PGMOL referee chief Howard Webb appear on Sky Sports and TNT Sports to talk through the VAR review process over some make-or-break moments in matches. While it does not leave every fan satisfied, we are at least seeing in real-time [albeit after a gap of a few weeks] how big decisions are made.

In the latest edition of ‘Mic’d Up’, Webb joined former Liverpool striker Michael Owen to go back over some big calls over goals, disallowed goals and disciplinary decisions. During the replay of footage, featuring live discussions between referees and the VAR team, two officials referred to Tottenham goalkeeper Guglielmo Vicario as “weak”.


VAR team call Spurs star “weak”

Earlier this month, Tottenham conceded an equaliser to Everton when Jack Harrison headed home after Dwight McNeil’s in-swinging corner. Guglielmo Vicario had flapped at the cross but was being leaned into by Everton’s Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

In the Mic’d Up segment, we hear the VAR team alerting referee Michael Oliver that the goal was being checked for four potential reasons to rule it out – offside, handball check, push on the goalkeeper and if the ball had gone out of play. The team watch the Calvert-Lewin interaction with Vicario first and the official talks it through with Oliver:

OLIVER: I don’t think any foul on the goalkeeper. I think he just eases [Vicario] out and he’s weak.

VAR: I’m looking at the keeper first. [Calvert-Lewin] stands his ground, keeper is weak, agree with that. Keeper plays the ball. Right, OK, I’m happy with the challenge on the goalkeeper.

The previous week, in the FA Cup, Manchester City beat Tottenham 1-0 when Nathan Ake scored after Ruben Dias had performed a similar bit of ground-standing in front of Guglielmo Vicario.

Following that game, Roy Keane told ITV that City had identified the Spurs goalkeeper as a “weakness:. He said:

“The goalkeeper has got to command that six yard area. A goalkeeping coach I used to work with years ago, he used to say – and I loved it – you come with violence. You come and attack that space and clear people out of the way. You have got to let them know you are there. If defenders are backing into you, be physical. Command that area.”

After that Everton game, which ended in a 2-2 draw, Tottenham boss Ange Postecoglu called for greater protection for goalkeepers. “It just seems to be, in general, referees are reluctant to call these now and leave to VAR,” he said. “At the moment any contact in the box referees seem reluctant to call.”

Toffees boss Sean Dyche denied the Tottenham No.1 was deliberately targeted at set-pieces. “No, not necessarily,” he said. “We want to be competitive on set-pieces all over the pitch. Delivery is massively important as is the intent and desire to score a goal,’ he said. That is a large part of what we drill into the players. We do look a threat. There is no story there, it is just what we work on.”

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