George Parris: “Will anyone who knows what is and isn’t handball please stand up?”

It is not definitive what officials are looking for when it comes to handball

I’m not sure about you but I’ve got to the point where I no longer know what is and what isn’t a handball anymore. I just think if it had been a West Ham player instead of a Liverpool player then we’d all be expecting a penalty to be given.

I just think, in that situation, if the ref has seen the ball hit the Liverpool player’s arm, then he’s got to give a penalty and let VAR take a look. I just don’t think it is definitive what officials are looking for when it comes to handball. We saw Antonio concede a penalty in the game against Arsenal and yet this one against Liverpool wasn’t given.

Then you’ve got the claims of handball against Coufal in our win against Fulham and then there was Soucek’s handball against Chelsea. Either of those could have been classed as handball. It just feels like there isn’t a week that goes by now where there’s one handball given and another that’s similar but not given.

When you compare this to tennis where you’ve got hawkeye that can tell you if a ball has landed in or out, we’ve got more to do with VAR. Also with cricket, if the umpire isn’t sure, he can refer it upstairs and have DRS (Decision Review System) have a look. Players can also review decisions too.

And I know fans are getting increasingly frustrated at how late linesmen are flagging for offsides. There was a moment in the Gent game where one of their attackers went through and Rice had to bust a gut to get back and tackle him.

That was energy that Dec didn’t need to use. What toll would it take on players if they have to do this a few times in a game for no reason? What would happen if Dec got injured? There’s no compensation offered! It just feels to me that linesmen are being on the safe side.

They don’t want to put their flag up and then it’s shown they are wrong. I do understand the thinking behind it if it’s a tight call, but some of the decisions are much more obviously offside and should be flagged. There have been moments this season when PGMOL has apologised to teams for a VAR error, remember our apology after Cornet’s goal against Chelsea that wasn’t given?

It does seem to be that Brighton have had more apologies than other Premier League teams but none of these teams have been awarded points. I think apologies are fine if the errors aren’t made again but they have been throughout this season. For some teams it’s the difference between getting three points or one, or one point instead of none.

VAR decisions aside, April was a good month for us. The games came thick and fast and before we kicked off against Southampton, I’m sure there were many of us trying to work out where West Ham could pick up points. I think, overall, April was a better month, points wise, than most people expected. 

The Southampton game looked like a gimme on paper but I thought the result against Fulham was a key moment for our season. I think many of us would’ve been happy with a point so to go there and get the win how we did, was important, and as I mentioned earlier, VAR went our way in that game too.

As for the Newcastle game, I didn’t really expect anything from it but I couldn’t believe the amount of mistakes we made in one game. It was like all the mistakes you’d make in one season in one game but we responded well with that Fulham win but also getting an unexpected draw against Arsenal after being two goals down.

The Bournemouth win was superb after we progressed to the Conference League semi final following our dominant second leg against Gent. We did look a bit shaky in the first half of the second leg against Gent but we got the goals at the right time in the second half and the game was soon out of their reach.

I actually think us being at home for the first leg against AZ Alkmaar will benefit us. If we can go into this game knowing we are safe, the lads can have a real good go at the first leg and hopefully put the tie to bed with a three goal lead.

Then with how we usually set up, we can go to their place and hit them on the counter. As for the league, I think we only need one more win to be safe and I’d rather that came sooner rather than later. 

Manchester United probably gives us the best chance of a win in our next three games but we may not need another win if other results go our way with other teams having to play each other. A few people have asked me why I think West Ham have been able to turn things around and I think it’s a combination of a few things but mainly it’s been confidence.

We’ve not changed personnel too much or changed our formation but confidence mixed with some players, like Paqueta, hitting form will have gone a long way to helping us. The good thing about our current situation is that it’s still very much in our hands. For teams like Southampton, when you’re starting to rely on other results, that’s when you need to worry.

Having said that, there are still enough games for those teams at the bottom to put a run together and pull themselves out of trouble. The Leeds and Leicester games could be good for us if we do need one final point or win to secure our Premier League status.

What has been pleasing has been that West Ham’s performances have picked up. I think April was the best we have played all season in terms of consistency. Apart from the Newcastle game, we have been in all the other games and could have got something from all of them. I’d be worried if we weren’t performing well or scoring goals, but we’re doing both.

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