Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder called Jonjo Shelvey “an unbelievably good actor” as the VAR row over Newcastle’s controversial second goal at Bramall Lane rumbled on.
Shelvey ran through to secure a 2-0 win for Newcastle on Thursday night despite Andy Carroll having been flagged offside for his flick on.
The England midfielder said later that referee Stuart Attwell had told him before the game to play to the whistle in such circumstances.
Wilder criticised VAR after the game, saying he is “drained” and “saddened” by the technology, and he turned his attention to Shelvey’s role in the goal at his press conference for the weekend trip to Norwich.
“Jonjo is an unbelievably good actor if he’s telling me that he knew,” Wilder said.
“He strolled up to that ball and thought ‘I’ll take a little bit of a chance. I’ll just roll it in and see what happens’.
“That’s what he did. Don’t kid yourself that he was through and he knew he was going to be in.”
Wilder said Shelvey’s goal, which came 20 minutes from time, “sucked the life” out of his players and 30,000 Sheffield United fans.
The result ended the Blades’ seven-game unbeaten Premier League run and, having slept on the incident, Wilder admitted he is still nonplussed by VAR.
“It’s consistently inconsistent,” Wilder said. “That’s what it is, it’s still subjective.
“It’s every pre-match, every post-match. It’s on the box every morning.
“(Former referee) Dermot Gallagher must be getting a right few bob! He’s getting work (on Sky Sports), so he possibly needs a holiday.
“My comments after the game, that’s the frustration on the night, and the overall situation regarding VAR as well.
“It wasn’t just condensed into that one decision. You looked at the reaction of the players.
“I went through all the spiel of my career from 14 and 16 and bored everybody to bits.
“But these boys have played football from a young age and all of a sudden it’s changed for them, and it’s changed for the supporters. You just saw the reaction of everybody.”
Wilder has no new injury concerns for Sunday’s game at Carrow Road.
The in-form strike partnership of Lys Mousset and David McGoldrick could return after being rested in favour of Billy Sharp and Oli McBurnie against Newcastle.
The ninth-placed Blades, who were promoted alongside Norwich last season, have exceeded expectations during the first half of the campaign.
But Wilder says he still needs to strengthen the squad in the January transfer window.
“There’s always a short, medium and long-term plan for this football club,” he said.
“We’re going through that process at the moment, we have to.
“It’s important we cement our position in the Premier League, we cement our position in the table as it is now, and we’ll only do that by investing in January.”