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‘Difficult to handle’: Pep Guardiola says VAR confusion is hard for managers

Pep Guardiola has said the continuing confusion over VAR decisions makes it very difficult for managers to control their feelings after the game. The Manchester City manager was talking after the officiating at the Newcastle v Arsenal game caused controversy, Anthony Gordon’s goal allowed to stand despite a triple VAR check.

The Arsenal manager, Mikel Arteta, who worked with Guardiola at City, was furious after the match, which Newcastle won 1-0, and said he was “sick” and “embarrassed” by the decision. Arsenal followed up with a strongly worded statement on Sunday, calling for improvement in the standard of refereeing and criticising what they called “unacceptable errors” at St James’ Park.

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“I have a feeling in every country there is confusion about many things,” Guardiola said, speaking before City’s Champions League meeting with Young Boys on Tuesday. “Emotions for the manager after the games is difficult, the feelings are so, so high and it’s difficult to handle it.”

Gordon’s goal may have handed City an advantage in the title race but there was obvious sympathy for his former City assistant. “I’m talking for myself, not for Mikel [Arteta] or any other manager,” Guardiola said. “It’s not easy.” He also suggested the implementation of VAR in the Champions League varies from that in England. “It is different, the handball is different, a few things.”

Guardiola refused to blame the officials for the confusion, however, saying he has sympathy for them. “It’s a sensitive issue. It’s difficult for the referees, too. I don’t know where I am in that position right now.”

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Should Young Boys be beaten and the holders maintain their perfect Group G record they will book their place in the last 16 with two games to spare. Thoughts thus strayed to the Club World Cup next month, when City will represent Europe in Saudi Arabia.

“We’ve never been there as you had to win the Champions League,” said Guardiola, who won the trophy in 2009 and 2011 with Barcelona, but lost its predecessor, the Intercontinental Cup, to São Paulo in 1992 when a Barça player. “I have been there a few times before, the first game is so tricky. People talk about the final but I struggled. With Barcelona it was not easy to do it.”

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Erling Haaland did not play the second half of City’s 6-1 defeat of Bournemouth and his manager was non-committal on the striker’s chance of playing on Tuesday. “He told me he feels much better, but I don’t know.”