With just days to go until the Premier League 2018/19 kicks off at Old Trafford, clubs are frantically trying to conduct late business and fans are just as desperate to see a star name arrive (or not leave in some cases!). The shorter transfer window has certainly provided a new challenge for chief execs and managers across the country, but this won’t be the only change we will see this year. For the first time ever, technology will be allowed in the technical area and it’s sure to provide a whole new edge to our match day experience. As an analyst myself I’m hugely excited, however I can’t help but think giving coaches replays that referees cannot see is going to cause huge controversy.
'The Managers won't be personally watching it during the game, rather the Assistant Managers or Coaches, so they won't be distracted, but it could lead to the people who we don't often see being vocal in front of the cameras becoming a lot more animated.'
I’m going to start this piece with a prediction: by the time Michael Oliver draws the line under the opening weekend of the season at The Emirates, a member of at least one team's coaching staff will be sent from the bench for contesting a decision. The new technology ruling states that video cannot be used to contest decisions, but I’m going to set the scene: a 95th minute winner hits the net with the striker marginally offside. The goal is awarded, but on the bench the coaching staff on the end of the bad decision have clear evidence in the form of video that the goal is offside. The coaching staff can see it, the manager can see it and the subs can see it. However, the men in the middle cannot see any replays due to the strange decision not to introduce VAR in conjunction with this new technology ruling. In a ruckus of cursing, hand gestures and fake televisions being frantically drawn, coaches will be sent off and the result will remain. Madness and theatre in equal measures!
'It's strange that when VAR was used so well in the World Cup, the Champion's League and Premier League won't be using it this season, if not for the next few, but they are introducing this. Whereas, La Liga will be using VAR but, so far, there's been no mention of tech on the bench. It sends a confused message. Surely, they should be using both.'
'Not all clubs will be using the technology. Teams have the choice to provide it or not at the start of the season - many aren't - but that can be overridden during certain matches as whatever infrastructure the home team has, they must replicate for the away team. When put on the spot, having to use technology they'd prefer not to, or be put at a disadvantage, how will they cope?'
Another interesting side note to the script is the fact that all teams are not permitted to provide the service. At some Premier League stadiums we won’t see a jot of technology on the bench all season long. A decision that seems somewhat baffling with the potential of instant feedback and replays to coaches and managers alike. The human eye may have more pixels than a camera, but the ability to watch a scene with unlimited playback can surely only improve decisions coming from the bench. Expect to see more tactical tweaks earlier in matches; the battle between managers has just been given another dimension that could become the golden bullet. Coaches have been using video for years, but never had they been able to do it live from the bench. The purists may not like it, but the tacticians amongst us have just had another rook placed on our chess board… Let the battle commence!