There has been plenty of debate around VAR in the past few days.
No surprise there!
The twist this time, however, is not about a particular decision that’s been made, but the fact that the technology is only in operation in three of the 16 Scottish Cup Fourth Round ties.
VAR was used yesterday when Celtic played Morton and St Johnstone hosted Rangers. It’s also available in this afternoon’s Edinburgh derby.
The reason for that is the fact the three games are being hosted by Premiership clubs, and are being shown live on television.
By contrast, however, VAR will not be used when Darvel take on Aberdeen in Ayrshire tomorrow night, a match being shown live by the BBC.
Many people believe that is a dangerous disparity. They feel it should be one rule across the board as the games are in the same competition as the ties not using VAR.
I totally understand where they are coming from, and the situation was underlined at Celtic Park when the visitors had a controversial early penalty given against them.
However, when you have the chance, I feel VAR should be used.
If it helps reach the correct decision, then why should we not take advantage of that?
It’s like having a car sitting outside your house when you have a journey to make. Why would you walk if you could sit behind your steering wheel?
At least the games not using VAR won’t have the confusion and controversy the technology continues to throw up, like at Old Trafford in last Saturday’s Manchester derby
I couldn’t agree with the decision to award United’s equalising goal against City.
Marcus Rashford was interfering with play, and played a role in Bruno Fernandes’ goal, even though he didn’t touch the ball.
As Bill Shankly used to say: “If you’re not interfering with play, you shouldn’t be on the pitch”.
The goal should not have stood, and it punished the City defence for some clever play when they stepped up to make Rashford offside.
The current rule is killing the art of defending. It’s very, very unfair and putting too many grey areas, and complicated rules, into the game.
For decisions such as that, my preference would always be to have the referee on the park make the final call.
VAR is helpful – but it is not perfect. There will always be debate as many of the decisions are down to human opinion, aided by technology.
For all its problems, it should still be welcomed and it may well be needed at Easter Road today.
There is usually controversy at the big derby games, and both Hibs and Hearts will be desperate to win this one.
The Jambos reached the Final of the tournament last season but lost to Rangers, so Robbie Neilson will want to take his men back to Hampden.
They won the previous clash between the Edinburgh sides fairly comfortably last time out, so Hibs will need to improve.
Having Kevin Nisbet back in the team is a major plus for Lee Johnson. Kevin is a big-game player, and some of his finishing in recent weeks has been of the highest standard.
When you see the level he brings to Hibs at the top end of the pitch, then it’s easy to understand why they felt his loss so much when he was out injured.
In the opposition, there is also a man in top form in the shape of Lawrence Shankland. He also knows his way to goal, and has scored some vital ones for Hearts.
Robbie has made him captain in Craig Gordon’s absence, and the striker has responded very well to that responsibility.
It says plenty about Lawrence for the manager to give him the armband. He must have a right bit about him, and also be popular and respected in the dressing room.
The spotlight will be on Shankland and Nisbet as they are the ones the supporters will be looking to as the potential match-winners in this huge Cup tie.
It will be interesting to see who comes out on top, and makes it into the draw for the last 16.
Aberdeen will also want to be in there, and it certainly looks as though Jim Goodwin needs a win.
There has been speculation about his future, and names have already been bandied about over who will replace him.
I think that’s really unfair.
In recent weeks, he’s had to play Rangers twice and Celtic once. They lost all three games by a single goal.
Jim is a very good young manager, and he needs to be given time. More patience needs to be shown.
I don’t think he is too far away from getting it right, and a win tomorrow night will certainly ease some of that unfair pressure.
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