'Tonight finally turned me against VAR': Everything Gary O'Neil said after Wolves' defeat to Fulham

Wolverhampton Wanderers manager Gary O'Neil during the Premier League match between Fulham FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Craven Cottage on November 27, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Jacques Feeney/Offside/Offside via Getty Images)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Gary O'Neil has staunchly criticised the refereeing and VAR decisions that he believed went against his Wolves side at Fulham on Monday night. 

Wolves lost 3-2 against Fulham at Craven Cottage, after conceding two penalties. Willian bagged a brace from the spot after Alex Iwobi opened the scoring, but the game wasn't without controversy. 

O'Neil, measured in his response despite clearly being unhappy with yet more decisions going against his side this season, spoke to Sky Sports after the game. Below, FourFourTwo transcribes every word the Wolves manager said during his five-minute interview. 

Willian of Fulham celebrates with team mate Alex Iwobi after scoring his sides third goal from the penalty spot during the Premier League match between Fulham FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Craven Cottage on November 27, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)

Fulham won the game 3-2 with a stoppage time penalty from Willian (Image credit: Getty Images)

Everything Gary O'Neil said after the Wolves defeat to Fulham

"We discussed a lot of decisions. Vinicius should have been sent off for headbutting Max [Kilman]. It's clear he headbutts him on the nose, but isn't sent off and is given a yellow.  

"Tim Ream should have been sent off for his second bookable offence on the penalty. They're both my opinions, obviously people can have their own.

"When you get to the penalties that went against us: Nelson [Semedo] plays the ball and doesn't touch Tom Cairney. I watched it back with the referee and, to be fair to him, he says he thinks they've [VAR] got that wrong and he should have been sent to the monitor. It doesn't help me, doesn't help all the fans that have travelled all this way to watch the team. It doesn't help the players who are feeling frustrated again. So, the Nelson one has pretty much been admitted by the referee that they made a mistake. 

"The one on Harry Wilson we disagree on a little bit - the referee thinks there's enough contact there to give a penalty. I think it's really soft. I think you could argue that maybe two of the decisions could go against us - but all four of those situations to go against us is a tough one for the lads, supporters and myself to take, because we've been here a lot of times this season. Tough, because we didn't deserve that."

Gary O'Neil on more decisions going against Wolves

Joao Gomes of Wolverhampton Wanderers and Santiago Bueno of Wolverhampton Wanderers complains to Match referee Michael Salisbury during the Premier League match between Fulham FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Craven Cottage on November 27, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Jacques Feeney/Offside/Offside via Getty Images)

Wolves were left fuming with some of the decisions that went against them (Image credit: Getty Images)

"It's bad luck, because it keeps going against us, but there are bad refereeing decisions in there. I've had a real grown-up conversation with the referee, trying to remain calm. I'm not angry with anybody, I'm not in there abusing people, it's literally just a conversation around 'come on guys, it's six, seven points now that have gone against us, and I'm managing a big football club here where the big difference you're making to my reputation, the club's progression up the league and to people's livelihoods is huge'.

"It can't be with all the technology and all the time in the biggest league in the world that we're getting so many wrong. It can't be OK.

"We should discuss the game really, but, unfortunately, we have to discuss these [decisions] because they're big situations."

O'Neil on if he'll be contacting Howard Webb

"I won't be calling anybody. What can I do? I just said to them [the officials] in there that I have two options really now: I keep behaving in the way that I should and I make the players behave in the way that we should, where we respect everybody and we respect all the decision-making, or we start to say 'that's not working, we're going to have to make some noise'.

"They're the two decisions, and I've been really honest around it. I'd rather be a decent human being and answer things honestly and have an honest chat with people, but things need to get better because I can't accept us being on the wrong end of decisions as often as we are. So that needs to get better. 

"The game was fairly even. I thought we should have done better second half as a team. First half I quite liked us, I thought we had decent control and had some good chances, so I'm just gutted for everybody really. The supporters were excellent, singing right until the end. They've suffered some tough moments, especially late in games this season, but it was an incredible backing from them. Big effort from the players, and unfortunately fine margins have gone against us. 

"The players will be fine, they know it's the Premier League and we'll give everything like we did this evening. Of course we'll make mistakes and we can be better, obviously. But they'll be ready to go again at the Emirates on Saturday."

His opinions on VAR now

"It's really complex. I've always been for VAR, but I think it's causing a big problem at the moment. The fact that the first one is not deemed a clear and obvious error and the second one is - I just think VAR has cost us there. If it was just a normal referee at that point we'll maybe concede one penalty from a mistake, but the fact that we've conceded two in the game is just...

"For me VAR is not helping much with subjective decisions, so maybe tonight has finally turned me against VAR, when I thought it would help but it doesn't seem to be."

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