Motherwell star O'Donnell makes shocking VAR confession; credits "relentless" Celtic

By Dave Flanigan

November 10, 2022

Motherwell defender Stephen O’Donnell has confessed that he went down after an off-the-ball incident with Reo Hatate in his side’s 2-1 home loss to Celtic last night because players have been instructed to do so in order to assist VAR checks.

The 30-year-old Scotland international pulled off a goal-saving challenge on Celtic’s Japanese midfielder to prevent Hatate scoring Celtic’s second goal on the night, and then hit the deck after a tangle of legs between the two as play continued away from the Motherwell box.

VAR checked the incident and referee Willie Collum signalled all-clear, but O’Donnell admitted that he had no idea what went on between himself and Hatate.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

As reported by The Daily Record, O’Donnell said: “I got a decent tackle in and then I don’t know if he kicked me or pulled me, I’m not sure what happened but I felt contact.

“They tell you you need to go down because that helps VAR look at it, so that’s what I did. VAR looked at it and said there was nothing in it. That’s not a problem, that’s what it is good for.

“It’s quite hard when you are playing in the game to know the level of contact or the aggression that is in it, I just highlighted it and that is what we are told to do. Seemingly, these things help so I’ve got no issues. If there was nothing, there was nothing. That’s what VAR is there to check for.”

O’Donnell was also quick to praise Ange Postecoglou’s side who recorded their third win over the Steelmen in the space of eight domestic games.

He said: “They are a good side and they showed their quality. They are relentless, but we competed well with them, especially second half, and hopefully if we put in a performance like that on Saturday it should be a positive result for us against St Johnstone, but we didn’t get points this time and we need to start getting some.”

“We had a couple of chances in the first half but we didn’t really lay a glove on them until the second half, which was much better but we still struggled to convert bits of pressure.

“It’s always good when you are playing Celtic or Rangers and they are making substitutes to see out the game. It’s a compliment, but it is just disappointing we didn’t get something.”

VAR has largely been a shambles since its introduction to the Scottish Premiership last month, and last night was no different, with the technology failing to upgrade Josh Morris’ wild challenge on Carl Starfelt to a red card and presenting a less-than-conclusive image of Jota’s wonderful goal that was disallowed for offside.

It’s fascinating to get an insight into how the players have been told to behave with the technology in situ, and it’s difficult to blame O’Donnell for going down if that’s what he’s been told to do, particularly when the incident came to nothing in the end.

It would be good to have more examples of VAR working as intended given the litany of errors it has accumulated over a few short weeks in the Scottish Premiership, but don’t hold your breath on that front.

In other news: “One of the best”; Motherwell boss makes Celtic Scottish Premiership claim