Speaking after Aston Villa striker Ollie Watkins had a stoppage-time equaliser ruled out against West Ham for offside, despite centre-half Angelo Ogbonna’s apparent foul being overlooked, Carragher slammed how “obsessed” referees have become with often focusing on the wrong thing.
The pundit cited the incident involving Virgil van Dijk and Jordan Pickford in October that has ruled the former out for at least most of this season, when VAR was used to judge whether he was offside instead of if there was a foul.
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Carragher believes “the bigger picture” is being ignored in favour of scrutinising the wrong infringement.
“Ollie Watkins has got goalside of Ogbonna but he’s got his two arms around him,” he told Sky Sports. “That’s a penalty or maybe you could argue it’s outside of the box so it shouldn’t be offside.
“Watkins is trying to get away from him, but the fact he’s being fouled has meant he’s offside.
“He does the right thing and stays on his feet, but the fact he’s being fouled has meant he’s offside because he’s got his arm out.
“This was brought in to help referees, and let’s not forget we were all calling for it, managers were calling for it when they were getting big decisions wrong. Referees need help.
“But I actually think, in some ways, VAR has exposed referees. I don’t think it’s been a big help to them. They’re having second looks at incidents and they are so obsessed with something that they don’t see the bigger picture.
“They are so obsessed with looking for that offside, that they miss the foul. It goes back to the incident with Pickford and Van Dijk. They are so obsessed with seeing whether someone is offside that they actually miss the foul.
“This nonsense of going to the screen has got to stop.
“It doesn’t make any sense. I know for a fact that when a referee goes to the screen, he is not looking at it seeing if he has made a mistake, he is getting told by Stockley Park where the infringement is. I’ve spoken to a referee and he’s told me that’s the case.”
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