VAR is far from perfect but it’s here to stay

When VAR was spoken about as coming into the game I was against it because I felt that it would take away the human aspect of the game. Players make mistakes, coaches make mistakes, referees make mistakes and we have to accept and live with that.

My concern with VAR coming in was that possibly it made it too clinical and, as it happens, VAR has probably created more controversy. We’ve got more talking points surrounding decisions in games now than we ever did before.

What I would say is that we are in an era where players are assisted more than ever before with sports psychologists, fitness coaches, dieticians, GPS monitoring etc. It has become a real science.

I think it’s only right that the people who are refereeing or officiating these players should be getting a similar level of technological support. You see experts in the studio with slow motion saying ‘looks he’s clearly offside’ and asking ‘how on earth has the linesman missed that?’ Well the linesman has missed it because of the pace of the game.

It is easy for a pundit to sit in the comfort of the studio and make that type of judgment but it’s not as easy for officials to make those decisions in real time from the side of the pitch. That’s where VAR can be very valuable but it needs to be used in a way that isn’t going to completely disrupt the actual game.

VAR is here to stay but I think it has to be used in moderation. The goalline technology is brilliant because either it’s in or it’s not and the referee knows instantly. There is no pause while everyone stops and waits for the decision.

But with other VAR decisions there is still an element of judgment involved. For instance how do you tell if a player intended to hurt somebody in a challenge? It might appear to be dangerous but was it just caused by a natural movement with no intent?

In that respect I think the controversy over VAR is just going to rumble on.

The technology is still in its infancy and I’m sure the way it is used will become more sophisticated as time goes on, but at the moment VAR seems to be creating more problems than it is solving.

The women’s game is improving but USA still leading the way

I went to the US in the early 80s as a Brighton player to help run a soccer camp in Dallas and was amazed at the time by how many of the players were girls. The US has been building and developing grassroots female football for at least 20 years longer than the rest of the world and it shows because the USA are dominating the women’s game

I watched quite a bit of the Women’s World Cup. Overall I was really impressed with it, for some reason there are a lot of people that feel female football is a poor product but I would say to them that they needed to have watched the Women’s World Cup because I thought there was some really good football.

Of course its different to the men’s game but you don’t have an Olympic 100 metre race between men and women because the top men sprinters are faster than the top women sprinters so the women’s game isn’t as fast or as powerful. But technically the women players are excellent and I would suggest that any man playing outside of professional football would not be able to live with the women in the pro game. The standard is really high.

I thought Stephanie Houghton, who unfortunately missed the vital penalty in the semi final, was outstanding as a defender and I was also impressed by the striker who scored a few foals for England, Ellen White, I thought she was a natural finisher and she ended up with 6 goals

But to improve the elite female players you need to invest in the grassroots game. The US has been doing that for decades and it is no coincidence that their national team has just won the World Cup for the second time in succession.