Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insisted he remained a fan of the controversial video assistant referee system despite his team’s bitterly disappointing 3-2 defeat by West Bromwich Albion in the fourth round of the FA Cup.
Match referee Craig Pawson used the system no fewer than eight times during an eventful game at Anfield on Saturday, with VAR being trialled in English cup competitions this season.
Three of those referrals, all in the first half, proved hugely important as Pawson and VAR Andre Marriner, based in a London television studio, disallowed a West Brom goal, awarded Liverpool a penalty and then allowed an Albion goal to stand.
“I think it’s normal that it will change things,” said Klopp. “Is it nice that West Brom celebrate a goal then somebody tells them it’s not a goal? No, but I think it’s important if a goal needs to be disallowed, it is disallowed.
“Normally after a game I have to explain to you (the media) a defeat which was not deserved because we didn’t get a penalty or they scored another goal. Is it cool in January to have delays when it’s cold, especially for the players? Maybe not.
“But it will become smoother and more fluent in the future,” the German added.
In truth, Klopp and Liverpool benefitted from two of those three decisions and could have been facing an even greater defeat had they not done so.
Roberto Firmino handed Liverpool an early lead only for Jay Rodriguez to score twice and Craig Dawson to add a third goal in first-half injury-time via defender Joel Matip, but only after the VAR ruled Rodriguez had not been offside.
Of the other two key VAR decisions, Pawson decided Gareth Barry was offside when Dawson headed in what would have been West Brom’s third goal and then correctly judged that Jake Livermore fouled Mo Salah for a penalty which Firmino struck onto the crossbar.