Sunderland at Wembley: Alex Neil reveals VAR verdict ahead of Wycombe final

Alex Neil says he doesn't expect the use of VAR to change any of his team's plans for Saturday's play-off final at Wembley.

By Phil Smith
Friday, 20th May 2022, 9:00 am

The Black Cats boss says he had no involvement in the discussions around the use of the technology, which will be used for the first time ever in a Sunderland game.

Neil admits it will provide an extra focus for his players to stay calm against Wycombe Wanderers, but doesn't think it will affect how they defend set pieces or their general approach to containing the opposition.

The Sunderland boss says he is generally not a fan of some of VAR's implementation but added that he had no issues with it being brought on for Saturday's game.

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VAR will be used in a Sunderland game for the first time at Wembley on Saturday

"To be honest I don't think we would do anything untoward naturally," Neil said.

"If someone makes a rash decision it'll be an individual error within a moment, rather than something that's been planned.

"I think what you need to be as a player is more conscious of the fact that every moment is repeatable, will be scrutinised, so don't do anything silly that can hurt the team.

"To be honest I didn't have involvement in any discussions around it.

"As long as they're fair decisions, I don't think you can have any complaints.

"My only own personal grumble is that personally, I don't really like it when it's someone's armpit and they're offside, I do think there needs to be an element of grace in that somewhere.

"People talk about giving attackers [favour] but that's not the case with VAR. Listen, that's just my personal preference."

Neil did admit that the use of VAR might force him to temper his celebration should Sunderland manage to get on the scoresheet.

"The main thing is I'm not too sure I would want to celebrate any goal too much," he said.

"I don't think I could handle the disappointment of it being taken away! So I'll have to rein myself in until it's confirmed if we do manage to score."

Simon Hooper will referee the game, having almost exclusively overseen Championship and Premier League games over the course of the current campaign.

VAR will be operated by Lee Mason, who retired from refereeing at the end of last season to become the first dedicated VAR official.