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MARK CLATTENBURG: Sadio Mane WAS offside in crucial derby decision... but the law must be changed

Published on: 18 October 2020

The Merseyside derby was packed full of controversy on Saturday, with VAR and Michael Oliver under the microscope in post-match analysis.

The points were shared after the dramatic game, seeing Virgil van Dijk injured by a reckless Jordan Pickford, Richarlison sent-off for hacking Thiago Alcantara and Jordan Henderson's late winner chalked-off after Sadio Mane's sleeve was caught offside by VAR.

Liverpool have asked the Premier League for clarity on the Goodison Park decision, so here is Sportsmail's expert response from ex-Premier League official Mark Clattenburg.

Pickford avoiding red

I once missed a Dirk Kuyt foul on Phil Neville in a Merseyside derby. I produced a yellow but had I been able to see it again — on a pitch-side monitor — I would have upgraded that to a red.

At Goodison, referee Michael Oliver should have been told to look at his monitor by VAR David Coote.

Had Oliver done so, I’m sure he would have sent off Jordan Pickford for his challenge on Virgil van Dijk.

VAR looked at the incident and decided it wasn’t a red-card offence. I disagree.

I’ve also heard it claimed Pickford could not be dismissed because Van Dijk was offside — rubbish. Oliver had not blown his whistle by the time Pickford lunged in, so he could still have been punished.

VAR confirming later Van Dijk was offside does not nullify a red. The bottom line is, Coote should have sent Oliver to his monitor. Given Van Dijk was injured, the referee had plenty of time to review the incident.

Mane offside... but I didn’t like it

Don’t blame VAR — blame the law. Sadio Mane was ruled offside for Jordan Henderson’s goal and the Liverpool captain complained about the camera angle shown on television.

He suggested officials ‘bend the lines’ to make it offside. At the risk of ruining a good conspiracy, I’m afraid that isn’t the case!

It’s like watching a horse race in your living room — you may think your horse has won, then the photo finish shows you lost. We see a certain angle on television and that can trick you into thinking someone is onside.

But the technology used by VAR is designed to draw lines that are parallel on the pitch. It triangulates a picture that, rest assured, is not crooked.

After that, it’s about finding the players’ furthest points forward. Mane’s was his sleeve — as per the new rules — and that was rightly measured against an Everton foot. So the Liverpool striker was indeed offside, but this doesn’t sit right with me.

Our beautiful game is about goals and we don’t want to see those ruled out by a millimetre here or there. It is the law that needs to be looked at, rather than the application of VAR.

Richarlison red card

The red card shown to Richarlison was correct.

His awful challenge on Thiago was a potential leg-breaker and Oliver was right to send him off.


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