Opinion: Bournemouth v Burnley VAR controversy shouldn't detract from yet another sobering defeat
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Billed as a “six pointer” and “must win” in some quarters, mainly by us excitable journalists who are prone to hyperbole, the Clarets simply had to show a response to what was an abject and miserable defeat to Brentford last time out.
In terms of the overall performance we got an improvement of sorts, but barely. It was still nowhere near convincing enough against a side sitting below them in the table – and without a win too, let’s not forget – prior to kick-off.
Bournemouth were the better side, created the clearer-cut chances and boasted the longer periods of pressure.
And yet, as we’ve said so often this season, it was ultimately Burnley who contrived to shoot themselves in the foot and were the masters of their own downfall.
They clearly didn’t learn their lesson from the Brentford game, where they were caught in possession time and time again and punished for what were relatively simple mistakes.
How did both of Bournemouth’s goals come about? From giving the ball away in the middle of the park.
In the early throes of the season, the players could be forgiven for acclimatising to the new level, where they’re barely given a second on the ball, never mind the two or three they’d be afforded in the Championship.
But we’re 10 games in now, there’s no excuse for dawdling and seemingly inviting pressure on yourself by taking an extra touch and waiting that extra split-second. As we all know, taking that extra split second can be decisive in this division.
That proved to be the case when Charlie Taylor, the unlikely hero only 10 minutes previous, took one touch too many in the middle of the park before being caught by Antoine Semenyo.
The Cherries player took full advantage, surging towards the Burnley box where he was given the time and space to fire low across James Trafford and into the far corner.
It was a shame for Taylor, because he’d just enjoyed a hugely significant moment – firing in his first goal for the club on what was his 198th appearance.
Now in his sixth year with the club, the left-back finally got off the mark and in some style too, leaving the Bournemouth keeper rooted to his spot with a swerving volley from 20 yards out.
The half ended all-square, but there was no doubt as to who had been the better side. Burnley had some joy in fleeting moments, but largely it was the hosts who looked the more likely.
Trafford came under huge pressure, especially from corners where the Cherries stuck the ball in the camped six-yard box at every available opportunity.
The young goalkeeper, to his credit, stood up to the pressure and got his fists to several of the crosses coming into this box.
But it was still another challenging afternoon for the stopper, who was also guilty of making some rash decisions and wasn’t the most composed with the ball at his feet.
He’ll inevitably cop some blame for Bournemouth’s winning goal too, given the nature of it, being chipped by Philip Billing from 45 yards out.
But as Kompany suggested during his post-match assessment, goalkeepers nowadays are expected to be standing that high up the pitch when their side are in possession. Had Vitinho not lost the ball in his own half, it wouldn’t have been a problem.
Taking away the bizarre nature of the goal, it was only what Andoni Iraola’s side deserved. They had dominated the second-half, enjoying virtual total control and pinning the Clarets back in their own half.
Burnley did, to their credit, end well and gave it a real good go. This is where the fun and games began.
With a minute left of normal time, half-time replacement Jay Rodriguez slotted home after being played through by fellow sub Nathan Redmond, only for the linesman to flag for offside.
What ensued was a complete farce. Not only did the VAR check take all of seven minutes, they also showed two completely different images: one with a green line, indicating offside, and one with red, indicating the opposite.
One can only assume they drew the wrong lines, or in the wrong place at least, but they certainly took long enough to reach a decision. When it arrived, it went against the visitors.
But what enraged Kompany was still to come, because he believed his side were denied a blatant penalty deep into stoppage-time when Sander Berge came close to bundling home a dramatic late equaliser.
The apparent handball wasn’t noticed on the pitch, but neither was there a VAR check either, much to the annoyance of Kompany, his players and his coaching staff.
Perhaps he has a point, but Kompany hasn’t been one in the past to concentrate too heavily on the debatable decisions we now see in virtually every game. So why now?
Deep down he’ll know this was yet another under-par, bitterly disappointing performance from his troops. He cut a despondent figure during his press conference, which said it all.
Burnley are currently a long, long way off it and an even longer season lies in store unless something drastically changes.