‘The guy with the VAR was having a cup of tea’
Newcastle Jets coach Ernie Merrick reckons the VAR has lost its bite after watching two crucial incidents go unpunished in 2-0 loss to Perth Glory.
The VAR was called into action when a Ronald Vargas thunderbolt cannoned into the arm of Glory defender Matthew Spiranovic in the 82nd minute on Sunday.
Replays showed Spiranovic kept his arm tucked in as he turned his body to protect himself, with the VAR deciding no penalty should be awarded despite the ball touching the player's lower arm.
But the incident that really got Merrick's blood boiling was when striker Roy O'Donovan was bundled over by Glory defender Shane Lowry in the 70th minute. That incident wasn't officially reviewed by the VAR, and Merrick wasn't happy after the match.
"The guy in the VAR was having a cup of tea. He didn't have a chance to look at it. He probably fell asleep," Merrick said.
"With the handball, it just depends which referee you've got. Some give, some don't.
"If it was against us, it would be given. We've had four penalties against, and we haven't got a penalty this year.
"But the Roy O'Donovan one - he was wrestled to the ground, pretty blatant.
"I don't know who looked at it. I think the guy in the VAR doesn't really change any decisions nowadays. They've gone from one extreme to another."
Goals from Andy Keogh and Neil Kilkenny proved decisive for Glory.
Diego Castro and Kilkenny combined brilliantly to set up Andy Keogh's 16th-minute opener in a game that started in 30-degree heat.
And Kilkenny produced a beautiful curling effort from the edge of the box in the 47th minute to help seal the three points.
Glory entered the match under pressure to score goals after posting lacklustre 0-0 draws against Melbourne City and Adelaide United.
But with Castro back in the starting line-up and firing on all cylinders, Glory looked a far more fluid and creative outfit.
The seventh-placed Jets are now 11 points adrift of sixth spot, and Merrick acknowledges his side face a huge battle to get back into the finals picture.