Solskjaer and VAR: United Manager Fights Back

FA Cup 2019/2020: Norwich vs Manchester United – tactical analysis tactics

VAR is undoubtedly set to change the way the Premier League operates for good. While referees are still expected to be on their toes to make the right calls, automatic checks have been rolling out across all Premiership matches this season.

Those waiting for the season to restart – who may have been whiling away the hours playing games at sites like – can now dive back into the wild and woolly world of VAR.

Checking penalty, a red card and foul, decisions, VAR can be a blessing and a curse. It’s also safe to say there’s been some interesting statistics come to light since it went mainstream.

According to stats, Manchester United, in particular, seem to have benefitted the most from VAR. Figures show that they’ve earned a net score of +8 when it comes to positive decisions made by the service. However, this seems to have led to a bit of a scuffle between Premiership coaches recently.

“It Should Actually Be Me Complaining”

It’s clear to many that United are benefitting hugely from VAR if statistics are anything to go by. With the hardware awarding the team 13 unique spot-kicks, and seven goals ruled-out against the Red Devils in recent times. That’s led to a few people wagging the odd finger and crying foul.

It has, in fact, also led to managers such as Chelsea’s’ Frank Lampard, to encourage players to avoid giving penalties away when playing United. However, such a suggestion hasn’t gone down well with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who feels VAR is more than fair re decisions made regarding his team.

It looks like there is a narrative to try to influence the people making the decisions,” Solskjaer advised, defending VAR’s recent role. “We had a penalty at Tottenham taken away from us which cost us two points – the Romeo red card when he nearly crippled Mason Greenwood (and) Mark Noble should have been sent off when we played West Ham.”

It should actually be me complaining. There is a narrative, but we just have to focus on the game,” he concludes. “I am fairly relaxed on it. Referees are objective and are not going to be influenced by emotions.

Surprising Statistics

Regardless of how United’s stats under VAR are perceived, there is plenty of interesting data arising from VAR this season. Norwich City seems to be bearing the brunt of the system, with a net overturns tally of -6. That’s only slightly less unlucky than Wolves, West Ham and Sheffield United.

The Red Devils, as well as Brighton & Hove Albion, are far and away the biggest winners through VAR so far. As it stands, Burnley and Crystal Palace have also benefitted, but they have half the positive VAR tally of United.

At the time of writing, fewer incidents than many may imagine have felt the brunt of VAR. 105 specific events were changed as a result of the intelligent referee system. Therefore, it’s clear that the way the game is played is changing.

Whether or not this is for the better, of course, is dependent on what side you’re on. Solskjaer is keen to profess that VAR and dedicated refereeing are impartial – but how many other coaches will see it that way?