Gary Neville says Arsenal ‘have not behaved properly’ with their VAR statement (Sky Sports)
After Mikel Arteta called the decision to award Newcastle United’s goal at St James’ Park a ‘disgrace’ and an ’embarrassment’, Arsenal released a statement the following day which backed their manager’s comments and hit out at ‘unacceptable refereeing and VAR errors’ during the game.
Liverpool also released a statement after they were denied a legitimate goal because of a VAR error in their defeat to Tottenham in which they claimed that ‘sporting integrity’ was being ‘undermined’.
But Neville believes both clubs have taken ‘a step too far’ by issuing statements and has urged the Premier League to take a firmer stance.
‘Liverpool got a really bad one here [at Tottenham] it was a shocker, and they had every right to be annoyed, Jurgen Klopp had every right to be annoyed and I thought he handled it brilliantly,’ Neville said on the Gary Neville Podcast after Chelsea’s 4-1 victory over Tottenham on Sunday.
‘But then what we saw the day after was language being used in a statement like ‘sporting integrity’, ‘we’re going to assess our options’, replays were asked for. Come on, that’s really dangerous stuff, I think. We can’t go down that route.
‘Then obviously after the game on Saturday at Newcastle we saw Mikel Arteta really angry, disappointed, called it a ‘disgrace’. And ultimately I never want to see managers lose their emotions at the end of a game but for Arsenal Football Club to write that letter they did last night and make that statement, honestly, it’s pathetic, it’s really poor. I think the Premier League have to get a grip of it.
‘We can’t make a decision that could be 50-50… even some of them tonight, Udogie was stupid, he should’ve been sent off for that two-footed lunge because you shouldn’t have to harm somebody [to be sent off]. That challenge was outlawed 20 years ago, that is the one that is unequivocally a red. Just because Raheem Sterling pulls his leg away at the last minute, he [Udogie] goes right for Raheem Sterling’s leg and would’ve broke his leg if Raheem Sterling hadn’t seen it coming. Do we have to get Raheem Sterling basically cut in half for it to be a red card? That tackle should have been a red card, Udogie lost his head first half.
‘Romero I think it’s the fourth time he’s been sent off, so I think Postecoglou needs to go into the dressing room and question the composure and the thought process of his two players.
‘I got sent off at times and at times I thought, ‘Gary, you’ve let yourself down, you’ve let your teammates down’, and I would’ve owned that. I’m hoping that Udogie and Romero and the res of the Tottenham players are thinking they’ve been hard done by, ‘we’ve been done by VAR, we’ve been done by the referee’. No you’ve not, you’ve been done tonight by your own stupidity.
Gary Neville slammed Tottenham’s lack of discipline against Chelsea (MB Media/Getty)
Tottenham were reduced to nine men against Chelsea after Cristiano Romero and Destiny Udogie were sent off (Shutterstock)
‘You [Spurs] were special in that first 15 minutes, your football was brilliant, we were purring over what Spurs were doing to Chelsea, Chelsea couldn’t get anywhere near them and then Udogie’s challenge [on Sterling] for me changed the whole game, changed the whole course and direction of the match.
‘So to me Spurs have to own tonight everything that happened, their positivity, their thrilling football, their high line, but they have to own their ill-discipline as well. I hope we’re not going to go down that route of sending statements in and blaming VAR, I don’t think Ange Postecoglou is that type of manager.
‘I think the way he’s conducted himself in the first couple of months in this league, I think he’s got honour and I think, to be fair, he knows how to behave properly and I don’t think Arsenal have behaved properly in the last 24, 48 hours, I genuinely don’t.
‘But Tottenham have obviously looked at what Arsenal have done and maybe Ange Postecoglou would’ve come to that conclusion anyway because he’s that type of bloke and thought, ‘hang on a minute, my two players who were sent off they were absolutely definite red cards’.
‘I think the Premier League need to get a grip, the international break is around the corner, we’ve got one more Premier League weekend, the leadership within the Premier League need to get a grip of their clubs, pull them into a room and say, ‘look, we know there’s going to be mistakes, we know there’s going to be disappointment, we know there’s going to be errors, we know that all these things are going to happen, it’s football, it’s happened for 30, 40, 100 years, but let’s at least agree on some principles of how we deal with it and show the game publicly to the world’.
‘If you’ve got famous football clubs writing statements, questioning sporting integrity of referees, calling referees a disgrace on what would be formally letterheaded paper of your Arsenal Football Club, for me that’s going a step too far.’
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‘I don’t think Arsenal have behaved properly.’