Shropshire Star

Gary O'Neil gives verdict on latest Wolves VAR controversy

Gary O’Neil has blasted the officials for their ‘terrible decision’ in disallowing Wolves’ late equaliser against West Ham.


After squandering a lead to go 2-1 down at Molineux, Max Kilman rose highest in the 99th minute to rescue a point.

But VAR instructed referee Tony Harrington to check the pitch side monitor and the goal was disallowed for offside on Tawanda Chirewa, who was stood close to goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski.

“Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to control my emotion and my feeling well enough to receive an explanation (from the referee),” O’Neil said.

“I was in with the referee but it didn’t go too well. I haven’t had an explanation, but the explanation is irrelevant anyway because everybody that I’ve spoken to, including David Moyes and Fabianski, all can’t believe it’s been given for offside.

“I think it’s a terrible decision and we should never reach that conclusion, but unfortunately we did. It’s something we have to deal with.

“If your knowledge and understanding of the game is really poor, you could reach the conclusion that it’s offside.

“If you’re a Premier League official working at the highest level, I would be really disappointed that you felt that was offside.

“If it is correct by the letter of the law then the letter of the law needs changing.

“The only way Tawanda could be having an impact in play is if he stops Fabianski’s ability to move and save the ball or if he impacts his vision.

“If you watch the side on view, you can clearly see Fabianski can clearly see the ball above Tawanda’s head.

“He’s not impacting his vision or his ability to move, so it’s a terrible decision.

“Some people may think I’m wrong and bias because it’s my team, but my honest view is that it should never be offside. David Moyes and Fabianski agreed.

“Only the referee and VAR think it could possibly be offside.”

When asked about his meeting with the referee after the game, O’Neil added: “I was in a fairly bad mood at the final whistle.

“I went in to see him and I asked him some questions. He didn’t like how they were asked, so he thought it was best we didn’t discuss it.”

Wolves put in an excellent first half performance to go 1-0 up through Pablo Sarabia’s penalty, but struggled to impose themselves in the second 45.

O’Neil was delighted with what his team produced in the first half, but criticised ‘crazy’ moments that saw the Hammers score twice.

He said: “We were excellent in the first half. Exceptional.

“To produce that level of performance, with what we have available against what West Ham have available, is an unbelievable achievement. It was an incredible performance.

“We were completely dominant and West Ham didn’t get a kick.

“At half-time they went a little bit more aggressive and figured out we didn’t have any threat in behind.

“We struggled to get out a bit, but having said that, I don’t remember Sa having to do too much at all. We protected him really well.

“We made a crazy decision in the build-up to the penalty, which we have to look at. We passed the ball between ourselves for no reason, no purpose, and it ends up letting West Ham back into a game that they didn’t look like getting back into.

“Then there was a freak goal that goes straight in from a corner. The wind was blowing in that direction, but I’d need to see it in more detail to see if Sa can do better.

“The third incident is the VAR disallowed goal. To leave with nothing is tough for us to take.”

Rayan Ait-Nouri was taken off early in the second half after going down with a knock, to add to Wolves’ injury concerns.

But the head coach hopes taking him off has prevented an injury for the star man.

“He had a tight calf and was feeling it a little bit earlier in the game,” O’Neil said.

“He felt it a little bit more in the second half and I knew the impact of taking him off would jeopardise the result.

“But the impact of leaving him on would potentially jeopardise the next four or five results. It was a tough call.

“We’re hopeful it’s not too bad, but it needs to be checked.”