Pep Guardiola was ready to be asked about a single VAR incident deep in Man City’s 5-2 defeat of Southampton at the Etihad Stadium, though he had to be goaded into comments regarding the club’s pursuit of a quadruple.
Guardiola muttered, “Jon knows. VAR does the rest” in the middle of his opening comments after the match on television, and thankfully the interviewer followed up.
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The incident in questions saw Southampton goalkeeper Alex McCarthy chop down Phil Foden after the City attacker skipped past him. Foden fought to stay on his feet and referee Jon Moss did not call a penalty.
The minute a replay hit the television screen, it was clear that VAR would send City to the spot. Only Andy Madley and his crew did no such thing. Remarkable.
“I couldn’t understand why Fulham was disallowed the goal against Tottenham,” Guardiola said. “I don’t understand the hands from Arsenal against Burnley. Another example is the penalty today. We won, it’s incredible, happy and everything.
“Jon cannot see it but the VAR is there. To not see the penalty is incredible. For a long time, 4-5 years I’ve never complained about the referees but this action is really in-cred-I-ble. In-cred-I-ble.”
Never say never, Pep, but we digress.
Fortunately for City, the game was lopsided and so is the title race, but Guardiola wants some answers and clarity on laws of the game in case the next decision carries more weight.
“VAR exists for the referees to see the action,” Guardiola said. “Maybe one day they will explain really the rules to all the managers and the players. Okay it’s 5-2. Maybe it’s 1-1. I’m proud because in this club, what we’ve done this decade we did it for ourselves. That’s for sure.”
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So Guardiola believes City’s been hard done by VAR over the years. It’s difficult to say that’s the case aside from the controversial non-call against Trent Alexander-Arnold that preceded a Fabinho wondergoal early last season, but he’s correct on this call.
Plus, City’s attacking prowess means more time in the opposition box and more reason for VAR to review fouls. It’s a better thing for City that opponents can’t foul with less odds of getting caught by cameras.
Foden’s two assists give him five on the season, but perhaps he could’ve hit the spot to secure his seventh goal of the Premier League campaign.
“I’m an honest guy and I never like to dive,” he said. “100% I thought it was a penalty.”