Mauricio Pochettino has warned of the potential dangers of the video assistant referee system and says he feels sorry for both officials and fans after the first half of Tottenham Hotspur's emphatic FA Cup fifth-round replay victory over Rochdale was dominated by the latest bout of VAR confusion.
Spurs, boosted by a perfect 12-minute second-half hat-trick from Fernando Llorente, eventually demolished the third-tier strugglers 6-1 at a Wembley Stadium blanketed in snow on Wednesday night [28 February] from the so-called 'Beast from the East', although controversy reigned during a bizarre first period.
In addition to ruling out Erik Lamela's early strike for an apparent infringement committed by Llorente on Harrison McGahey, the VAR also awarded a Tottenham penalty after a foul on Kieran Tripper had initially been given as a free-kick on the edge of the Rochdale box.
Heung-Min Son duly netted the spot-kick, only to see the goal disallowed for an illegal feint that led to a yellow card from referee Paul Tierney.
The sheer time it took to reach those decisions, coupled with the complete lack of communication with the greatly reduced 24,627-strong crowd led to widespread frustration and criticism, with loud boos heard ringing around the ground and clearly exasperated players demanding clarity.
Such controversy did not end up costing Tottenham as that commanding showing after the interval set up a quarter-final tie against Premier League relegation battlers Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium on 17 March. It also extended their impressive unbeaten run to 16 matches across all competitions, though Pochettino still queried if the VAR trial was really helping the game.
"It was a game we can talk about different things," he told BBC Sport. "It was so complicated because of the new system, it was difficult to keep focus on the game. The job is done and we are happy because we are in a quarter-final.
"I told the players to keep focused at half-time. The circumstances were difficult. I think we have the best referees in Europe or the world but I don't know if this system will help them or cause more confusion. It is a game of emotion. If we are going to kill this emotion I think we are going to change the game.
"It's difficult for the referee - I feel so sorry for the referee and more I feel sorry for the fans because it's so difficult to understand the situation. We have a tough game at Swansea and we will have a competitive time."