Chris Wilder admits goal-line technology failure is ‘difficult to take’
Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder was left baffled after the Blades were denied victory at Aston Villa by a technical fault.
Goal-line technology failed to award the visitors a winner after Orjan Nyland carried Oliver Norwood’s first-half free kick over the line.
Referee Michael Oliver’s watch failed to signal the goal and the game – which finished 0-0 – continued.
It stopped the Blades moving above Manchester United into fifth as they continue to mount a surprise European challenge.
Hawk-Eye, which runs the technology, issued a statement apologising for the error, saying the fact goalkeeper Nyland, Keinan Davis and the post were in the way meant no camera saw the ball cross the line.
But Wilder insisted it was clear the ball was over.
“It was in the Holte End, the goalkeeper was in the Holte End and eight rows back. Everyone knew it, saw it and felt it,” he said.
“I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Already the jokes have started, I’ve just seen Del Boy with a Hawk-Eye watch on. It’s all going to come out but we’re pretty disappointed and we’ve got to get on with it.
“I believe a decision should have been made from Stockley Park (the VAR centre). For someone to tell me with seven cameras and this is the first time it’s happened in over 9,000 games it’s a difficult one to take.
“We’ve got Chris Kavanagh (fourth official), one of the best referees in the Premier League and Michael Oliver possibly one of the best referees in Europe and if you ask them they’ll be scratching their heads over how this situation occurred.
“We believe it should have been referred (to VAR).”
Nyland tried to claim Norwood’s deep free kick three minutes before the break but was bundled across the line by team-mate Davis.
It was clear the ball crossed the line but referee Michael Oliver’s watch did not signal a goal.
VAR did not intervene either as the play continued and Villa won a free kick, starting a new passage of play – although it could have done in the interim.
A statement from the Professional Game Match Officials Board explained why VAR did not intervene when the technology failed.
It read: “Under the IFAB protocol, the VAR is able to check goal situations, however due to the fact that the on-field match officials did not receive a signal, and the unique nature of that, the VAR did not intervene.”
It was the only serious flashpoint for United as they struggled to impose themselves on a Villa side who, for all their effort, lacked cutting edge.
Villa were marginally better and Conor Hourihane and John McGinn were denied by Dean Henderson while Davis and Kortney Hause headed over.
But they failed to move out of the bottom three ahead of hosting Chelsea on Sunday and boss Dean Smith admitted Villa got lucky.
He said: “We controlled the first 30 minutes but we got away with one, certainly, with the technology not working. But I’ve been in the other position where technology has not been good for us at times.
“There’s always going to be some error, we have human error from officials and we have to accept that.
“There’s going to be errors in technology as we’ve seen with VAR this season and now for the first time ever with Hawk-Eye. We just have to accept it and move on, there’s nothing else we can do.
“We’re the ones who go away disappointed even with that controversy. The fact that we are just shows that the performance was good. We need to maintain that level.”