Rodgers: I would scrap VAR right now and go back to 'pure football'

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers would scrap VAR right now and go back to “pure football” if given the choice.

The former Liverpool and Leicester boss accepts VAR needed time to bed in but feels the implementation of the technology is now spoiling the game.

Rodgers felt the well-positioned referee made the right call in booking Daizen Maeda during his side’s Champions League defeat by Atletico Madrid on Tuesday but was then presented with an image that distorted the true nature of the challenge and led to a red card.

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“I felt for Celtic supporters the other night,” he said. “You have paid hundreds of pounds to travel to Madrid, you are stuck up in the sky watching the game, you have had a good day maybe in Madrid and you go to the game and after 20-odd minutes one of your players gets sent off. It just spoils the game, absolutely spoils the game.

“And I think we are now starting to see that a little bit more. The waiting about, the hanging about. I said after the game, it feels we are getting much more like a computer game, everything getting assessed on a screen. That’s not football.

“If it continues that way then of course it would have to be looked at because, from a players’ perspective and a supporters’ perspective, and a general football perspective, that’s not the game we know and the game we love.

“I have spoken to people down in England working in the Championship where there’s no VAR and they tend to quite enjoy it. They understand there’s going to be some mistakes but the fluency and fluidity of the game feels a bit removed from constantly looking at screens.

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Former Celtic defender Charlie Mulgrew gives his assessment of their Champions League campaign after a 6-0 defeat to Atletico Madrid

“There’s a lot that is good but the bad in it is very bad. That’s something that would have to be looked at – whether it’s worth it or not.

“I think I’m quite a patient guy so I know when it’s starting to grate on me that it’s gone quite a way. Other managers in fairness to them have been like this a few years ago.

“I tend to want to give things time and see how it pans out because everything deserves a chance. But if it’s spoiling the game, that’s when we would have to look at it.

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Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers on Daizen Maeda’s injury, Celtic’s Champions League campaign so far and facing Aberdeen on Sunday

“Listen, if you ask me right now, I would get rid of it. Absolutely.

“But if there’s money been invested in it, for the greater good of the game, that is supposedly to make it better, then you have to give it every chance.

“But if you’re asking me now, I would go back to just pure football, and we know where there’s humans involved there will be mistakes. I would rather accept that than what we see at the minute.”

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Highlights from the Scottish Premiership match between Ross County and Celtic

St Mirren manager Stephen Robinson earlier questioned whether VAR was improving Scottish football one year on from its introduction, and days after his side benefited from the technology to get a penalty against Hibernian.

“If I was Nick Montgomery and the penalty went against me I would be very unhappy because Richard (Taylor) wasn’t ever in a position to score, but the rules are it’s a penalty,” Robinson said. “Believe me, I’d have been crazy at the decision.

“The question we have to ask ourselves is: is VAR making the game better? Because we are investing money into it.

“If we are making it better then we stick with it and push on. If we’re not making it better, which I will let you guys decide and the fans, who are the most important people in the game, then certainly everything has to be looked at.

“And I was the biggest advocate for it, I thought it would help the game. Football is a spontaneous game which gives a great joy to a lot of people and now that joy is being held back, so to speak. That’s me being conservative in what I say.”

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