Great Britain

John McGinn slams ‘ghost goal’ critics who claim Aston Villa would be in Championship but for controversial tech blunder

JOHN McGINN slammed the cynics who claim Aston Villa survived last season only because of the biggest high-tech cock-up in Prem history.

And he says there is no way tomorrow's teatime clash with Sheffield United should be billed as a ‘ghost-goal’ grudge game — because Villa would have stayed up anyway.

Chris Wilder’s Blades were denied a stonewall goal at Villa Park last season, in the first Premier League match after lockdown, because of a bizarre goal-line technology blunder.

Oliver Norwood’s free-kick was fumbled over the line by Villa keeper Orjan Nyland.

Yet the Prem’s Hawk-Eye system — previously thought infallible — suffered  a spectacular malfunction.

Referee Michael Oliver pointed to his watch to indicate it had not buzzed and so the ball could NOT have crossed the line — even though it was clear to the naked eye that it had.

The game finished goalless, handing Villa a valuable point.

Now McGinn has spoken for the first time about the controversial moment, shooting down claims — led by relegated Bournemouth — that Villa would be back in the Championship if  Norwood’s goal had stood.

As he prepared to cross swords with the Blades again, the Scotland midfielder said: “I don’t feel embarrassed by that goal at all.

“Why? Because we had so many other bad VAR decisions which went against us last season.

I don’t feel embarrassed by that goal at all. Why? Because we had so many other bad VAR decisions which went against us last season.

John McGinn

“There was a ‘Without VAR’ league table compiled which showed where every club would have finished last season without new technology.

“It showed we would have finished three places higher, which made me chuckle a bit. That incident made me feel like it was about time a VAR decision went our way.

“Sheffield United obviously won’t agree but we could list so many bad VAR decisions which went against us.

“I should have got a penalty against Spurs on the opening day last season. Henri Lansbury’s goal against Palace should have stood

“That was in the space of the first six weeks of the season.

“Fortunately, against Sheffield United the decision went for us. But over the entire season the bad decisions outnumbered the good ones for us.”

McGinn, 25, bristles at suggestions Villa only avoided the drop because of that crucial point they pocketed.

He added: “People can’t say that with any certainty. Even if we had gone in behind at half-time, who’s to say we wouldn’t have adopted different tactics?

“We could have put on another striker, really gone for it and won the game.

“Likewise, at West Ham on the final day of the season a draw ended up being enough to stay up.

“But if we had needed a win we would have gone out with that target in mind.

“When we returned from lockdown our approach was spot-on. Our target was to stay in the league and we achieved that. We would have done that whether that goal stood or not.”

McGinn insists there is no reason for any bad blood to exist between the Blades’ players and Villa.

He said: “I don’t think the Sheffield United boys will hold a grudge against us. I think they will accept it as water under the bridge.

“We have a good relationship with their players and the bottom line is it wasn’t our fault. It was a malfunction between the referee, VAR and the Hawk-Eye system.”

Sheffield United robbed of goal vs Aston Villa with Hawk-Eye ‘not working in first half’ and ‘only flashing at half-time’

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