Manchester City's Pep Guardiola Talks Lack of VAR in FA Cup Win vs. Swansea City

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistMarch 16, 2019

SWANSEA, WALES - MARCH 16: Josep Guardiola, Manager of Manchester City reacts during the FA Cup Quarter Final match between Swansea City and Manchester City at Liberty Stadium on March 16, 2019 in Swansea, United Kingdom. (Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)
Harry Trump/Getty Images

Swansea City have received an apology from an unlikely source: Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola.

He watched his team overturn a 2-0 deficit to beat the Swans 3-2 in the 2019 FA Cup quarter-final at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday. The game was littered with controversial decisions, including a disputed penalty awarded to City, before Sergio Aguero headed the winner from an offside position.

Neither incident was subject to video review because VAR was not present at the Championship side's ground. Guardiola addressed the lack of technology to aid match officials and offered his commiserations to the Swans, per ESPN FC's Jonathan Smith:

"Honestly I didn't watch it. Secondly, if it's a penalty or offside like the people say then I'm sorry. But you have to ask the authorities why the VAR is not here.

"They asked all the clubs if they want VAR and we said we want VAR all season. All around Europe, VAR is there and here it is not. Ask the people why the VAR is is some games and not here."

Guardiola wants to know why there wasn't any VAR at Swansea, but it's simply a case of the division a team plays in, according to Martyn Ziegler of The Times:

Some would likely argue a club's status is not as relevant as the importance of a particular competition when determining which games are equipped with the review system. This argument has more weight when a tournament, any tournament, begins to reach its business end.

Guardiola admitted he doesn't like to lose or win games based on incorrect decisions. It's one reason why the 48-year-old feels referees need assistance: "Sometimes it's centimetres, and they spend three minutes on VAR looking at it, imagine taking the decision in one second during the game."

Ultimately, the City boss felt his team bossed possession and kept Swans goalkeeper Kristoffer Nordfeldt busy. Even so, it's difficult to deny fortune favoured the Citizens at key moments after falling behind to a Matt Grimes penalty and a fine goal from former City academy graduate Bersant Celina.

One of those incidents occurred in the 78th minute when City were awarded a penalty after a clash between Cameron Carter-Vickers and Raheem Sterling. It was a disputed decision, as contact appeared minimal. Referee Andre Marriner would surely have benefited from a second, closer look.

Neither Marriner nor his assistants should have needed another glance to rule Aguero offside two minutes from time.

Aguero's winner likely wouldn't have stood with VAR in place.
Aguero's winner likely wouldn't have stood with VAR in place.Harry Trump/Getty Images

Of course, not every video review guarantees the correct call. Nor does the outcome of a review guarantee a game will change in a certain team's favour.

After City went through, their neighbours Manchester United were eliminated from the quarter-final thanks to a 2-1 defeat away to Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Red Devils centre-back Victor Lindelof was shown a red card by referee Martin Atkinson after a tackle on Diogo Jota. VAR overturned the decision, allowing Lindelof to stay on and for United to keep it 11 versus 11.

Wolves could have been deterred but instead protected their lead to reach the last four.

The FA and Premier League have taken a steady, drip-feed approach to introducing VAR in England. It's meant many are still on the fence about the worth of using the technology.

What is clear is that with blanket use planned in England's top flight for the 2019/20 season, debates like those raised by City's controversial cup win are only going to become more frequent and intense.

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