Referees’ authority is being challenged by VAR – Aston Villa boss Dean Smith

Aston Villa boss Dean Smith believes referees’ authority is being challenged by VAR.

The Villa chief remains sceptical over the use of video replays following their last-gasp 2-1 Premier League defeat to Liverpool on Saturday.

Villa benefited after Roberto Firmino had a goal ruled out having been flagged offside in the first half.

It was a call backed up by VAR but so tight the Premier League had to clarify the decision at half-time, saying the striker’s armpit was ahead of last defender Tyrone Mings.

Smith attended a League Managers’ Association meeting last week with VAR high on the agenda and feels officials need to take greater responsibility.

“I feel they’re taking a little bit of authority away from the referee and I want the referee to have that authority,” he said.

“If he thinks it’s a goal and VAR are telling them there’s something other than a factual reason, I’d like him to go over and have a look himself.

“I made my points known and we’ll have another meeting this week. We all voiced our concerns about it and what we think can improve.

“You can’t scrap it now, there’s 28 countries using it. We all wanted it to find the right decisions but there was always going to be teething problems and we’ve found them.”

Villa fell foul of VAR in their 3-0 defeat at Manchester City last weekend after David Silva admitted touching Kevin De Bruyne’s cross, despite replays showing if Silva had touched the ball Raheem Sterling was in an offside position.

Smith added: “Last weekend was a terrible day for VAR because they’ve gone from one extreme to the other. We need to find a happy medium, a good balance.”

Liverpool won at Villa Park after Sadio Mane’s injury-time header following Andy Robertson’s 87th-minute leveller.

Trezeguet had opened the scoring for Villa but Liverpool maintained their six-point lead at the top of the Premier League ahead of Sunday’s visit of second-placed Manchester City.

City came from behind to beat Southampton 2-1 but boss Jurgen Klopp insisted he cannot think about their title rivals.

He added: “I never thought a second about the Man City game and the Aston Villa game together.

“I never thought: ‘OK, you should win that, because maybe we lose next week and then we are on a level’, or whatever.

“We play Genk (in the Champions League) and then we play Man City. Now we have to again collect the bounce and prepare for the next challenge, Genk.”

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