Nuno Espírito Santo has urged the Premier League to consider reverting to using “daylight” to determine offside decisions after Wolves were again left cursing VAR in another frustrating goalless draw with Leicester City.
The referee, Mike Dean, was obliged to rule out Willy Boly’s header a minute before half-time because Pedro Neto was ruled offside by the back of his heel after exchanging a short-corner routine with Diogo Jota before crossing into the area for Matt Doherty to head back in for Boly to nod home.
Denied by technology in the opening-day goalless draw at the Kingpower Stadium, when Leandro Dendoncker’s effort was disallowed for Boly’s unknowing handball, Wolves have now had four goals chalked off through VAR this season, second only to Sheffield United. How ironic the two newest arrivals in the Premier League’s top seven should suffer the most.
Wolves climbed to seventh place despite proving unable to take advantage of having an extra man for the final 14 minutes after Hamza Choudhury was dismissed. Nuno was calm afterwards as he repeated his desire for VAR to be reassessed after this season.
“The law is the law,” the Wolves head coach said. “The question is whether there is a clear advantage of [being marginally offside]. I’m still positive. I’m upset of course because Molineux was buzzing and then, suddenly, down. It becomes an issue for the players to sustain the concentration of the game and when they see the image it’s even worse.
“Let’s try and hope that who has to decide takes a good look not only for us the professionals but the fans, especially the fans. Something needs to be done. When you have something and it is taken away you don’t like it.
“You can be on both sides of the situation. We are unfortunate it’s happening more times for us but it’s not about Wolves; it’s about the game, about football and what we had and what we have, what kind of game we want to see, how the fans are going to react to it.”
“What was the previous law about offside? There was an expression in England. Daylight, that’s what I’m thinking. I don’t want to see anything.. I [just] want things to improve.”
If fifth place can really earn a place at European football’s top table, after the pre-match news that Manchester City are to be banned from the Champions League, then not only can Leicester feel even more confident of qualifying but Wolves can start to dream of joining them.
These are exciting times in the Midlands and, despite Leicester’s relatively poor form, they had a return to second place in their sights as they dominated possession for much of the first half, Youri Tielemans bringing a scurrying save out of Rui Patricio with an early deflected shot.
Wolves, as is their wont, were happy to concede possession and attack on the counter. When Neto scampered in down the right and, at the second attempt, slid a pass in towards Raul Jiménez, Jota came running in from deep to shoot low and hard only for Kasper Schmeichel to save.
The teams were so evenly matched, trading free headers as Boly and Dendoncker went close before Caglar Soyuncu’s effort was gratefully clutched by Rui Patricio, before Wolves started to take control. Then the game blew up as – shock, horror – VAR denied Wolves by the slightest of margins again.
Cries of ‘It’s not football any more’ rang around Molineux as Dean was booed off the field at half-time after he followed instructions from Stockley Park that Neto was offside by the narrowest of margins.
It was a painful moment for the Molineux faithful. Not only were they remembering Dendoncker’s disallowed goal at Leicester but the other tight calls against Manchester United, Liverpool and Manchester City in recent games.
The atmosphere at Molineux intensified a notch as the Wolves fans vented their sense of injustice. Memories of last season’s implausibly open 4-3 here were forgotten as Leicester defended bravely and, once Adama Traoré came on, more deeply.
After Choudhury was sent off for his second bookable offence 14 minutes from time, Wolves threatened their second win in eight games but Jiménez headed wide from a corner when free as the game moved into stoppage time.
“In the last 20 minutes we had to show a different kind of mentality to dig in for the point,” Brendan Rodgers, the relieved Leicester manager, said, before agreeing that VAR should be reviewed in the summer.