We always knew it was going to happen. While the Premier League's opening fixture between Liverpool and Norwich managed to pass without incident, it was never going to be too long before we had a VAR controversy.
As luck would have it, it would arrive on the second game of the new season. Manchester City's 5-0 win over West Ham may not be the most noteworthy result, but some VAR incidents in the match are sure create plenty of headlines.
Goals from Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling gave Manchester City a 2-0 lead before half time, and the pair linked up to extend that lead to 3-0 just after the interval.
However, the goal would be ruled out for offside after a VAR review. It was the correct call, but perhaps the tightest one we have ever seen.
This was how close that VAR call was...
This season will be fun🙈 pic.twitter.com/jUnhmA2CJ3
— Balls.ie (@ballsdotie) August 10, 2019
As you might have guessed, the online reaction to the decision was not kind.
Clear and obvious.
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) August 10, 2019
The VAR situation was nonsense and Sterling’s immediate reaction was “oh fuck off!”, and understandably so, but City have had the wind taken out of them a bit since. West Ham buoyed slightly. Great Ederson double save there
— Sam Lee (@SamLee) August 10, 2019
Welcome to the ruined season
— Sam Lee (@SamLee) August 10, 2019
Raheem Sterling gaining a clear advantage there by having his shoulder half a cm ahead. The wonderful world of VAR.
— Jonathan Smith (@jonnysmiffy) August 10, 2019
When we need dotted lines drawn vertically to show that Raheem Sterling's shoulder is 2 millimeters offside, we've crossed the rubicon of absurdity. THIS IS NOT WHAT VAR IS FOR
— Chris Wittyngham (@ChrisWittyngham) August 10, 2019
— City Threads (@City_Threading) August 10, 2019
no gonna lie, precision offside decisions make me hate #VAR.
— Muhammad Butt (@muhammadbutt) August 10, 2019
Sterling would grab his second of the game a few minutes later, and we would once again be treated to a VAR check. While this one actually looked more offside than the first one, it would stand.
VAR would come up trumps for for City for a second time a few minutes later, after Sergio Aguero was allowed to retake a missed penalty.
While it was originally assumed the it was retaken due to Lukasz Fabianski coming off his line, it was actually for encroachment into the penalty area. Declan Rice was well inside the box before the ball was struck, and he would then go on to clear away the ball.
Man City penalty retake explained from VAR HQ:
For Declan Rice encroachment and clearing the ball after the save.
VAR wouldn't have been used to rule on Fabianski coming off his line before penalty was taken. PL leaving that to on-field officials
— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) August 10, 2019
Surprisingly, Manchester City supporters seemed to be more accepting of this VAR intervention.
The game would finish 5-0, with Raheem Sterling completing his hat trick late on. Despite his performance, the post-game narrative will be dominated by the new technology introduced into the Premier League.
Sterling himself, the man supposedly foiled by VAR, admitted he had no problem with the decision in his interview after the game.
Still, many continued to vent their frustration.
Also - sorry - the idea that you are somehow a luddite if you don't welcome VAR is a bit weird. Thinking technology can be helpful and believing sacrificing the spectacle and experience in order to use technology is a bad idea are not mutually exclusive.
— Daniel Storey (@danielstorey85) August 10, 2019
— Brian Robertson (@brianj_iam) August 9, 2019
— The Bowss (@karlyboy7) August 10, 2019
Still, at least there were some people applying some common sense to the subject.
VAR gets two very tight offside decisions spot on. Re take of a penalty spot on because Rice encroaches & then clears the ball away. VAR will have problems at times this season, but to criticise it when it does its job is just nonsense.
— Jamie Carragher (@Carra23) August 10, 2019
VAR isn't for fans or pundits to enjoy.
It's there to make more correct decisions in the sport
Really don't understand the fuss. Some spoilt fans moaning because their pub debate is more important than a correct decision?
— Stan Collymore (@StanCollymore) August 10, 2019