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Gary O’Neil says Wolves loss at Fulham may have ‘finally turned him against VAR’

Gary O’Neil said ‘maybe tonight has finally turned me against VAR’ after Wolves’ defeat (Zac Goodwin/PA)
Gary O’Neil said ‘maybe tonight has finally turned me against VAR’ after Wolves’ defeat (Zac Goodwin/PA)

Gary O’Neil admitted Wolves’ 3-2 defeat at Fulham may have ‘finally turned him against VAR’ following a number of controversial calls.

Willian scored two penalties – including a stoppage-time winner – at Craven Cottage, while Alex Iwobi’s early strike was cancelled out by Matheus Cunha and Wolves’ Hwang Hee-chan also scored from the spot.

The Cottagers won their first penalty after Tom Cairney beat Nelson Semedo to the ball and was brought down in the box, and a VAR check ruled the incident to have happened inside the area, with Willian stuttering in his run-up and sending Jose Sa the wrong way

After reviewing the decision with referee Michael Salisbury after the match, O’Neil told Sky Sports: “Nelson plays the ball, doesn’t touch Tom Cairney. I watched it back with the referee, and to be fair to him he says he thinks they’ve got that wrong and he should have been sent to the monitor.

“Doesn’t help me. It doesn’t help all the fans that have travelled all this way to watch the team. Doesn’t help the players who are feeling frustrated again. The Nelson one has pretty much been admitted by the referee that (there was) a mistake.”

Willian’s winner sparked more debate, O’Neil maintaining the second penalty, issued after Joao Gomes was deemed to have brought down Harry Wilson in the box, was “soft”, but Salisbury in that case stood by his decision to ultimately award the penalty – the result of VAR Stuart Attwell encouraging him to check the pitchside monitor.

O’Neil, who has seen his side emerge on the wrong end of decisions before, said: “It’s bad luck that it keeps going against us, but there are bad refereeing decisions in there.

“I’ve had a real grown-up conversation in there with him, I’m trying to remain calm. I’m not angry with anybody. I’m not in there abusing people. It’s literally a conversation around, ‘come on, guys, it’s six, seven points now that have gone against us, I’m managing a big football club here, and the difference that you’re making to my reputation, to the club’s progression up the league, to people’s livelihoods is huge’.

“It can’t be that with all the technology and all the time and the biggest league in the world that we’re getting so many wrong. It can’t be OK.

“I’ve always been for VAR but I think it’s causing a big problem at the moment. Maybe tonight has finally turned me against VAR when I thought it would probably help, but it doesn’t seem to be.”

Fulham boss Marco Silva, meanwhile, was relieved to have secured a first victory in five matches.

He told Sky Sports: “It’s a really important win for us. We wanted a reaction from the last, back-to-back defeats. Of course it is always tough for us. It is something that we are not used to.

“I really wanted to see that quality, that intensity, the pace, the will to go. The team showed very good spirit. Overall it was a balanced game but we were always trying to do more to win than Wolves, I believe.”