As Arsene Wenger pointed out this week, there’s room for improvement in the Premier League’s use of VAR, but things aren’t as bad as some are making out.

Arsene Wenegr and Patrick Nelson (Press Eye / IFA)
Arsene Wenger and Patrick Nelson (Press Eye / IFA)

As we covered earlier today, Arsene Wenger thinks the biggest problem with the current use of VAR is that referees aren’t using the pitchside monitors sufficiently. He did add that he thinks the problems are being overblown at the moment though.

“I honestly believe it is working much better than people think because I have witnessed many bad decisions before,” Wenger said.

“Let’s not forget it is in its first year, so of course everything is not perfect. The adjustments will come. You have to educate people in the VAR to get them to intervene at the right moment.”

VAR has been given its first few months of use in the Premier League this season. If I’m being honest, so far it seems like the people in charge of it are causing their own problems, rather than any inherent issues with the system itself.

Bringing VAR in later than the rest of Europe was a mistake, but it gave the Premier League a chance to avoid the pitfalls many other countries have fallen into. Instead, it almost seems like they’ve deliberately headed straight for them.

At first, they refused to actually overturn any decisions – excluding offsides. Then, they went fully in the other direction overturning almost everything.

Now, as Wenger highlights, Mike Riley is bizarrely urging the referees not to use the pitchside monitors available to them.

mike riley
LONDON, ENGLAND – JULY 12: (L-R) Former referee Mike Riley and current referee Jon Moss are interviewed at Stamford Bridge during the Premier League Referees Charity Bike Ride on July 12, 2016, in London, England. (Photo by Joel Ford/Getty Images)

Obviously, Riley is holding back from using the monitors over fears of slowing the game down. The thing is, occasional delays were always going to be part of the trade-off for more accurate decisions.

The fans and the players knew that, but most were willing to accept it for a fairer game. By trying to please everyone, Riley has ended up with a system that pleases no one.

Those who want accurate decision-making believe referees are missing crucial pieces of data by not consulting the screens. Those who want a flowing game are still getting the disruptions.

Wenger is right, VAR hasn’t been as bad as many make out. The officials are just turning fans against it by not using it the same way every other league does.