It’s VAR from a failure, so embrace it
So VAR is back for the A-League finals - and once again, it's divided fans and people in the game.
Did we miss it while it was gone in the games following the COVID-19 break?
No, we haven't.
Watch every match of the 2019/20 Hyundai A-League Season LIVE on Kayo. New to Kayo? Get your 14-day free trial & start streaming instantly >
That's due to two things. Firstly, the players have been fantastic and the football has been top-shelf.
And we also need to acknowledge the excellent refereeing, because there's only been a couple of incidents they've missed out on. Truly, they've been absolutely outstanding.
But my understanding is that the teams that are in the final six have all decided that it's best to bring back VAR. So, if it's a decision that's got the backing of the clubs, then it's a no-brainer.
I understand both sides of the argument here. I hear the fans who don't like it, because from the outset there's been a lot of debate and a lot of people that have been against it.
Sometimes when a decision takes so long and goal celebrations get interrupted, I can understand the frustrations. People don't like that it can disrupt a free-flowing game.
What gets under a lot of people's skin is the confusion about it.
I also accept those who say what is most important is getting the correct decision in a big game.
But, ultimately, when it's used right, it's the right thing to have.
And I know personally how long it can burn when you have a big decision go against you.
I wish there'd been VAR around in 1997 for our World Cup qualifier against Iran - we all remember the off-side for their first goal which changed the game.
And generations of England fans still can't watch footage of Diego Maradona's Hand of God goal at the 1986 World Cup.
When the decision goes for you, if anything you might feel a little bit of guilt but you don't go nuts about it. But when it goes against you, you can talk about it for 30 or 40 years, or more.
And that's where we are at here.
We're at the big games now, so you bring in the extra security - that safety blanket for the referees.
And let's not forget that the vast majority of the season has been played with VAR.
So, in many ways, it makes sense to finish it with VAR rather than say 'if we had VAR in the finals, maybe we wouldn't have got that penalty or maybe so and so wouldn't have been sent off, maybe that goal would've been ruled over the line'.
One of the great things about football compared to other major international sports is that we're not normally one to make bid adjustments to the rules.
Yes, there's little things like handball, or how an off-side is judged, but the last major rule change was the back-pass rule.
That in the end has worked a treat, but I remember being back in England and there was similar criticism at the time - "why tinker with the game?".
The bottom line is, if FIFA decrees something, we've got to abide by it. It's as simple as that.
We play in a world competition. And if FIFA says they're going to give out their directives that VAR must be implemented, then so be it.
It's back! The controversial A-League finals call-up
It's one of the most divisive pieces of technology in football, but VAR is set for a controversial return for the A-League finals.
FFA confirmed on Tuesday that the Video Assistant Referee, called on to judge contentious goals, offsides and matters involving foul play, will be used throughout the five-game finals series set to start on Saturday.
VAR was not used for the final 27 games of the regular season played after the competition's COVID-19 shutdown, with some suggesting that has helped contribute to the free-flowing, attacking football on display.
While fans of the beautiful game have rejoiced in the absence of the stop-start technology interfering with the game, not all have been as thrilled - with Wellington lamenting the lack of VAR during his side's tough defeat to Sydney FC last month.
Phoenix were on the rough end of a handful of decisions, having a goal disallowed for off-side as well as two penalty claims shouted down, before going down 3-1 to the eventual premiers.
"A lot of people were not in favour of the VAR and now all of a sudden we are in favour of the VAR to be there because it's not there," Phoenix coach Ufuk Talay said.
"I was quite pleased with the VAR, the way it worked, and I believe it should be there."
It was also confirmed on Tuesday that all five finals matches, starting with this weekend's elimination fixtures, would be played at Bankwest Stadium.
Limited numbers of fans will be able to attend the finals fixtures.
Saturday, August 22, 5pm: Wellington Phoenix v Perth Glory or Brisbane Roar
Sunday, August 23, 6pm: Western United FC v Perth Glory or Brisbane Roar
Wednesday, August 26, 5pm: Melbourne City FC v Highest Ranked EF winner
Wednesday, August 26, 8.10pm: Sydney FC v Lowest Ranked EF winner
Sunday, August 30, 6.30pm: Winner Semi Final 1 v Winner Semi Final 2
Superhuman crack extends Sky Blues' winless streak
A superhuman effort from Brisbane goalkeeper Jamie Young has extended Sydney FC's winless streak to four games, just as their stuttering title defence appeared be jolted back to life by starlet Luke Ivanovic
Ivanovic's stunning, curling first-half strike saved Sydney's blushes in a 1-1 draw on Monday night in Newcastle - but it could've been so much more had it not been for an outstanding night in goals from Young, who produced a string of extraordinary second-half saves to earn his team a point.
And for large chunks of the contest, it was Brisbane who looked the more likely championship threat on the back of an inspired performance from youngster Dylan Wenzel-Halls until Ivanovic stole the spotlight.
In the shadows of halftime, Ivanovic turned on a dime and curled a shot through a handful of Brisbane defenders into the top corner - leaving Young, for the only time in the match, looking on in amazement.
The 20-year-old did not return after the halftime break having succumbed to severe cramp in his left leg.
Sydney missed his enterprising attack but will feel hard done after forcing four second-half saves from Young as they peppered the Brisbane goal.
With 20 minutes remaining, the 34-year-old Young produced a remarkable double save - denying both Alex Baumjohann and Adam le Fondre in one sweeping attack - to frustrate the league leaders.
The early exchanges were dominated by Brisbane who went ahead after just 11 minutes through Dylan Wenzel-Hells, who pounced on a superb ball by Jay O'Shea before producing a delightful chip to beat Sky Blues' keeper Andrew Redmayne.
The 22-year-old went close to sealing a double in as many minutes when he skipped through some flimsy defence from Luke Bratten and Ryan McGowan, before Patrick Flottmann - in his first start for Sydney FC - came up with a last-ditch tackle.
Redmayne's hands were stung again when Matthew Ridenton fired off a shot late in the half as Brisbane asserted their dominance, before Ivanovic turned the game - and Sydney's faltering form - on its head with a magnificent strike.
Brattan told Fox Sports that Sydney weren't where they needed to be with just one game left before the finals, and coach Steve Corica agreed with him.
"He's right. He's very honest with what he's said there," Corica said.
"We need to finish off our chances, for one. We need to create more chances. We can be better with the ball as well.
"Defensively we need to stop leaking goals, we're conceding a goal pretty much every game at the moment. There's a little bit of work to do there defensively, but it's starting to come back."
Corica then laid down the challenge for his troops, insisting that Sydney's last regular season fixture - against Western United on Saturday - would determine who features in the finals.
"Another massive game, against Western, because they really need to win as well," Corica said.
This is next level from Jamie Young 😲— Hyundai A-League (@ALeague) August 10, 2020
📺: @FOXFOOTBALL 507, @kayosports
📱: My Football Live app - https://t.co/Vq7m2Pg9x9#BRIvSYD #FootballReturns #ALeague #RoarAsOne #SydneyIsSkyBlue pic.twitter.com/2x65AkiFgD
"And all the boys need to be prepared for that. If they want to get a starting spot in the finals they need to perform."
Roar coach Warren Moon was pleased with his side's defensive efforts, and praised the continued bright form of Wenzel-Halls.
"He's been good the last three games - he's been creating the same chances, getting into the right areas and tonight was a good reward for him," Moon said.