Nuno Espirito Santo insisted the chaos of VAR ‘doesn’t make sense’ after Wolves lost their FA Cup third round replay 1-0 defeat away to Manchester United.
Pedro Neto’s 10th-minute strike was ruled out by the video referee after the ball hit Raul Jimenez’s right hand from point-blank range following Harry Maguire’s sliding challenge on him.
Juan Mata’s deft effort in the 67th minute proved to be the only goal, leaving head coach Nuno to reflect on more VAR misery for Wolves, who had Matt Doherty’s header disallowed in the first tie.
“That’s VAR. Again, the momentum, we celebrate, but the other celebration was louder – we are celebrating ‘non goals’, it doesn’t make sense,” said Nuno.
“It’s one of those things that now us, as managers, have to manage also.
“One moment you are celebrating, the moment is yours, then it’s a ‘non goal’ and the whole stadium is celebrating like it was a goal.
“Something is wrong, when we are in stadiums celebrating ‘non goals’. We scored and not even our players really celebrated – even me – because everybody is getting afraid to celebrate.”
There was little to choose between the teams again, with Wolves goalkeeper John Ruddy denying Daniel James twice and Mata with good saves, while Raul Jimenez finished poorly from a great position, Joao Moutinho had an effort headed off the line and Doherty headed against the post before being ruled offside in what was a much better game than the first tie.
Nuno’s determination to win the tie was reflected in his team selection, with John Ruddy for Rui Patricio in goal the only change from Saturday’s 1-1 draw against Newcastle.
But the head coach was upbeat afterwards after being inspired by his side’s encouraging performance.
“It’s frustrating because we go out of a competition we value, but the way we did it, the how is more important, because I think we can make ourselves proud, and the fans enjoyed it until the end, so let’s keep on going,” he said.
“When we perform well, we have to be confident. We played well, so this gives me confidence – when you don’t play well is when you have a problem.
“Results are important of course, we value them, but what is important is how we do things. We performed well, did good things and played good football.”
Nuno acknowledged the tie was tight, with little between the teams as United beat Wolves for the first time since they returned to the Premier League, in five attempts in league and cup.
“Both teams had chances, both goalkeepers did well. Raul had a good chance in the first half, so it was a good game,” reflected the Portuguese.
“I’m disappointed to go out because it’s frustrating knowing we did well, we performed well, and we don’t go to the next one. I’m happy with the boys, happy with the support.
“It was a good game until the end. Both teams played well and have chances.
“We conceded a bad goal – bad defending, but we worked until the end. It’s not a missed opportunity, it was a good game of football that can only make us better for the future.”
Nuno said Adama Traore is fine despite struggling before he was replaced by Oskar Buur in the 88th minute, while substitute Ruben Vinagre appeared to pull up.
“He (Vinagre) made a sprint and felt something, but let’s assess him,” said Nuno.