Karius 'very relaxed and excited' ahead of EFL Cup final – Howe

By Sports Desk February 21, 2023

Eddie Howe has no doubt Loris Karius is in confident mood ahead of an unexpected Newcastle United debut in the EFL Cup final.

An improbable series of events have led to Karius being in line to make his Newcastle bow against Manchester United at Wembley on Sunday.

First-choice goalkeeper Nick Pope was sent off against Liverpool last weekend, while Martin Dubravka is cup-tied having spent the first half of the season on loan at Man United. He will only get a winners' medal if his Newcastle team-mates lose.

Karl Darlow, who started Newcastle's cup campaign in goal, was also allowed to leave on loan, meaning Karius and Mark Gillespie – the fourth and fifth-choice options – will be thrust into the spotlight.

It is Newcastle's first major cup final since the 1999 FA Cup final, a loss to Man United, but Karius has rather more recent and similarly painful memories of such an occasion.

He was at fault for two goals as Liverpool lost the 2018 Champions League final to Real Madrid, albeit having suffered a concussion. He never played for Liverpool again.

But Newcastle head coach Howe said of that match: "I've never really discussed that at any length with him [Karius].

"We've all got stuff that's happened in our careers and our histories that you learn from, and I think he's no different in that respect.

"Since day one since he's come here – he started where he hadn't had a lot of work before joining us – he's trained with our goalkeeper coaches in a really, really good way.

"His general performances in training have improved as he's spent more time with us, and I think he's in a good place and he's ready to play."

Asked how talks had gone with Karius since his sudden promotion, Howe added: "Those conversations are the type of conversations I have with him on a regular basis.

"How is he? How does he feel his training's going? Are we giving him everything he needs to be the best that he can be?

"He's a very likeable, laidback character. I've got no doubts on his confidence levels. He seems very relaxed and excited – as Mark is – about what lies ahead."

Pope has kept the most clean sheets in both the Premier League (12) and EFL Cup (four) this season, but Howe himself is also still confident.

"I think we have to be very positive about our situation, about the game," he said. "Yes, it's a blow to lose Nick, but we still believe in the team and the group that we have."

Related items

  • 'It's a Ferrari, you just need the right driver' – ex-FIFA referee defends VAR amid Liverpool row 'It's a Ferrari, you just need the right driver' – ex-FIFA referee defends VAR amid Liverpool row

    Former FIFA referee Duarte Gomes has leapt to the defence of VAR amid the furore surrounding Liverpool's Premier League defeat to Tottenham, calling the technology's introduction "the best thing to happen to football". 

    The use of VAR is a hot topic in the English top flight again after Luis Diaz was incorrectly denied a goal in Liverpool's 2-1 loss to in-form Spurs.

    Darren England – the VAR official on duty at the time – misunderstood the on-field call to chalk the goal off for offside, inadvertently clearing an incorrect decision.

    Liverpool have reacted furiously to the incident, which played a part in their first defeat of the season, with boss Jurgen Klopp suggesting the game should be replayed on Wednesday.

    However, Gomes – a retired Portuguese referee who officiated in FIFA and UEFA competitions between 2002 and 2016 – says the ability of those using the technology is the issue, not the technology itself.

    Speaking to Stats Perform at the Thinking Football Summit, Gomes admitted officials were still adapting to the technology but said it had already righted "thousands" of incorrect decisions.

    "I don't have the slightest doubt that it's the best thing that's happened to football and to referees for decades," Gomes said.

    "I know that we have a big, long way to run yet. It's not perfect, far from that. People who work with VAR are also learning and they are focused always on their careers as a referee on the pitch. 

    "The process of decision-making was completely different, and then you put them in a room with many screens and tell them to decide in a different way they have to adjust. 

    "As with everybody, there are some people who have more competence than others. We are now on that trail to try to be there. 

    "Nevertheless, in factual decisions, let's say, for example, offsides or with goal-line technology, I believe that around the world, thousands and thousands of goals have been saved or cancelled correctly after VAR. 

    "So yes, it's good for football. It's a Ferrari, you just have to have the right driver to be there.

    "I've made many mistakes with the human eye; penalties, decisions, yellow or red cards, things that I missed. VAR could help me a lot. I would have been a better referee if I had it."

    Gomes also believes, however, that technology cannot become all-invasive in football, emphasising the need to preserve the emotional nature of the sport.   

    "I'm a little concerned about AI in the future, of course also in refereeing matters. I believe it will have an important role," he added.

    "Sitting here right now, I don't know if I will have a different way of thinking in 10 years. We are always adjusting, but I believe technology should always help until the point that humans decide.

    "Human first, technology after, not the other way around because football is for people. It's played for people, with people, and refereed with people, and that's what gives the emotion.

    "If you become very technological, it's very difficult to have an emotional sport and then it will lose many of its values, so yes, technology is always to help, not as a substitute for the referee."

    Gomes also feels the rise of social media has had a major impact on the levels of abuse received by officials. In a high-profile incident from last season, Roma boss Jose Mourinho was given a four-match ban by UEFA for angrily confronting referee Anthony Taylor after his team lost the Europa League final.

    "I believe it's getting worse because social media gives the right to everybody to criticise, especially the ones who didn't do it with a public voice before," he said.

    "Football is a social phenomenon and it's unique because it can put you in a very emotional state, sometimes an irrational state, which is worse. 

    "You cannot ask people to be reasonable when they have their emotions so strongly attached to their teams and their competitions. 

    "Sometimes you have to let the balloon go down a little bit and then ask them for some tolerance again. Nobody wants to hear the explanation of law one or law two, [but] you have to do it slowly, you have to try and try."

  • Smith tells Liverpool to move on as Klopp calls for replay of controversial Tottenham fixture Smith tells Liverpool to move on as Klopp calls for replay of controversial Tottenham fixture

    While Alan Smith accepts Liverpool have every right to be hurt by the VAR error which cost them in Saturday's loss to Tottenham, he thinks Jurgen Klopp's team have no choice but to move on. 

    PGMOL, the body responsible for match officials in English football, admitted a "significant human error" was committed when the decision to disallow Luis Diaz's first-half strike – which was flagged offside – was not overturned. 

    The audio recording of the decision-making process surrounding the incident was made public on Tuesday, revealing VAR Darren England misunderstood the nature of the on-field decision when clearing the check.

    Diaz's wrongly disallowed effort occurred when the game was goalless, with Liverpool down to 10 men following Curtis Jones' straight red card. 

    Diogo Jota was also sent off in the second half before Joel Matip's stoppage-time own goal handed Spurs a dramatic 2-1 victory, maintaining their flying start to the Premier League season.

    Liverpool subsequently said the "sporting integrity" of the game had been "undermined" in a statement, and boss Klopp made further headlines on Wednesday. 

    Speaking at a press conference ahead of Liverpool's Europa League fixture against Union SG, Klopp called for the Spurs game to be replayed, labelling the situation "unprecedented".

    While Arsenal great Smith has sympathy for Liverpool, he maintains the Reds have no option but to accept they were wronged. 

    Speaking to Stats Perform at the Legends of Football event, in aid of Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy, Smith said: "I was amazed when they played on and the offside was upheld.

    "It was a lack of communication, big time.

    "I can't understand how that happened, but it's not great because it casts a shadow over the game, over VAR especially, and Liverpool are clearly very upset. 

    "You can't blame them, but I think you've just got to suck it up and carry on really. It's done. It's done now."

    The incident has sparked further debate about the impact and implementation of VAR, but former Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein says the technology will become more effective as time goes on, calling for supporters to "stick with it".

    "Well, it comes down to two words, human error, and that's going to happen," Dein said. "People have got to understand.

    "I'm a great supporter of VAR. Before VAR came in, the referees were making one game-changing error every three games. That's been reduced dramatically.

    "You'll see as the years go by. It's still in its infancy. It only came in the World Cup in Russia in 2018. That was when VAR was really introduced. 

    "It's going to get better and more efficient as time goes on. I'm a great supporter. You've got to stick with it."

    Arsenal Women's manager Jonas Eidevall was also speaking at the event, and he outlined his belief that semi-automatic offside technology – which is used in UEFA competitions – should be adopted by PGMOL.

    "With VAR, as long as there is a human element to it, there can always be human errors," Eidevall said.

    "If you do the semi-automatic offside technology, you don't really have a human element to that and you get less errors. So I think that's a good example. Goal-line technology is another one. 

    "The referees are also going to get better, over time, at working with a system like VAR. That's also very obvious and they will also learn things every season. They want to get things right."

    Meanwhile, VAR – and goal-line technology – was a hot topic across the opening weekend of the Women's Super League season, with officials failing to award Guro Reiten a goal despite the ball clearly crossing the line in Chelsea's 2-1 win over Tottenham.

    Asked if he expected VAR to grace the league soon, Eidevall said: "Yes, I do. I think that's where the development is heading. I don't know if that's next season or the season after. 

    "I think when we do, if we implement it, it has to be the full version. 

    "What I don't want to see in the women's game is for them to implement a cheaper version of VAR with less camera angles. That makes it really difficult for the referees to see the situations."

  • VAR Darren England discusses avoiding mistakes in interview for children’s book VAR Darren England discusses avoiding mistakes in interview for children’s book

    The official responsible for Saturday’s VAR blunder broke his own golden rule when he wrongly ruled out Luis Diaz’s goal for Liverpool at Tottenham, a new book has revealed.

    Darren England submitted to a Q&A for ‘The Football School Encyclopedia’ in which, asked ‘What is the hardest part of the job?’ he responds: “Making sure you do not make a mistake that impacts the outcome of the match.

    “This is the worst thing for us.”

    By a remarkable quirk of timing, the book, which is written by Alex Bellos and Ben Lyttleton and aimed at younger readers, will be published on Thursday and offers insight into one of those responsible for what veteran former referee Keith Hackett described in the Telegraph as an episode of “staggering incompetence”.

    England and his VAR assistant Dan Cook have been stood down from future appointments while Professional Game Match Officials Limited chiefs undertake a full review of the “significant human error” that it concedes was made during the game.

    In the Q&A, which was conducted prior to the incident, England continues: “I try to prepare the same way for every match, which is to stay calm and relaxed.

    “During the match I remain very focused and just take each decision I need to make, one at a time.

    “I do not worry about past decisions in the game as it is all about the next decision.”

    The Football School Encyclopedia is aimed at younger readers and boasts its appeal to “anyone with a thirst for knowledge, amazing true stories, terrific trivia, brain-busting quizzes, eye-popping colour, laugh-out-loud cartoons on every page – and everything you want to know about football!”

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.