A seething Gary O’Neil claimed the refereeing team admitted they made three errors that contributed to Wolves’s 3-2 defeat at Fulham last night.
In the latest match marred by VAR controversy, three second-half penalties were awarded, while two potential red cards were missed, as Fulham won in the Premier League for the first time since October 7.
Wolves manager O’Neil said the referees’ team said after the game they made mistakes not showing a straight red card for Carlos Vinicius’s headbutt on Max Kilman, nor a second yellow to Tim Ream for the obstruction that brought Wolves their penalty.
O’Neil also said that referee Michael Salisbury admitted VAR Stuart Attwell made an error in not sending him to the monitor to check Nelson Semedo’s supposed foul on Tom Cairney. Salisbury, watching the footage back with O’Neil, said he would have overturned his original penalty decision if he had been sent to the screen.
“[Salisbury] doesn’t think the first one is a penalty because he thinks he should have been sent to the screen and he would have overturned it from the images that we watched together in his room,” O’Neil said.
"He regrets the fact that he wasn’t sent to the screen. The last penalty is the most contentious one. They think they got it right. I disagree, but the fact he’s not sent to the screen for the one that is a clear and obvious error and then is sent to the screen for the last one is really confusing.
“They sent somebody out to speak to one of my staff and said that, by the letter of the law, Tim Ream should have received a second yellow card.
“We discussed the headbutt, and [Salisbury] debated that a little bit with me and said that it was a soft headbutt. I just said, ‘That’s crazy’. It’s absolutely crazy. So, we can headbutt people on a football pitch as long as it’s deemed soft or not hard enough?
“So, my son, at home watching that, or children watching that, we’re telling them that you can headbutt people as long as it’s not too hard? But they’ve come out after that and sent their representatives to speak to one of our staff and said that they got that one wrong as well and that should have been a red card.
“When I look at this evening, the referee would have probably done a better job alone and without VAR’s interference. What’s the point of VAR if all these incidents are missed? I don’t think it’s helped the game.”
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) November 27, 2023
The Premier League’s Independent Key Match Incidents Panel states Wolves had already been victims of incorrect refereeing decisions against Manchester United, Newcastle, Luton and Sheffield United this season.
“Behaving respectfully and conducting myself in this manner has probably meant we’re seven points down due to PGMOL reviews,” O’Neil said. “The difference between 22 points and 15 on my reputation, when you’re trying to build at a big club, is irreparable.
“You can send me flowers, you can ring me tomorrow, you can do what you want — but we should be on 22 points instead of 15.”
Fulham manager Marco Silva was delighted with his side’s victory, secured in stoppage time by Willian’s second penalty of the evening.
He said: “For me, the clearer penalty is [our] second one. And it’s the only one the referee didn’t see — he needed help from VAR. They can’t complain about that one. The first for us and the [penalty] for them, I think they are both a bit soft.”
Asked whether Vinicius should have been sent off, he replied: “I didn’t see.”