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‘It can’t be that difficult’ – Graham Potter wants handball law refined swiftly

Brighton and Hove Albion v Chelsea – Pre-Season Friendly – AMEX Stadium
(Image credit: Adam Davy)

Brighton boss Graham Potter has called for the handball rules to be refined as he feels football is in danger of becoming unrecognisable following a succession of contentious decisions.

Debatable spot-kicks were awarded against the Seagulls, Crystal Palace and Tottenham during a weekend of controversy in the Premier League.

Albion suffered an agonising 3-2 defeat to Manchester United after Neal Maupay was penalised for brushing the ball with an outstretched arm, allowing Bruno Fernandes to score the winner with the last kick of the game 10 minutes into added time.

While Potter had no complaints about the decision against his team, he felt Palace defender Joel Ward and Spurs’ Eric Dier were harshly treated and is baffled by the current interpretation of the laws.

“We’ve been playing football since the mid-19th century and we’re still trying to get to terms with a rule of handball in the box,” Potter said.

“In fairness, Neal’s is a handball. I think the other ones are slightly different.

“It can’t be that difficult to get the game so that people recognise it. And the sooner that it is, the better.

“We’ve seen incidents over the weekend where everybody can see it’s not anything deliberate, it’s completely innocuous and it’s strange as a football person to see.

“We need to think about that and refine it.”

Each of the three penalties, which were awarded following VAR intervention, impacted the final results, with Palace losing 2-1 to Everton and Tottenham being held to a 1-1 draw by Newcastle.

Potter is the latest figure within the game to question the situation, joining the likes of Eagles boss Roy Hodgson, Magpies manager Steve Bruce and pundits Gary Lineker and Jamie Carragher.

He is preparing for a swift rematch against United, who return to the Amex Stadium in the last 16 of the Carabao Cup on Wednesday evening.

Potter once again plans to make wholesale changes after altering his entire starting XI for the two previous rounds.

He want his players to swiftly forget about Saturday’s heartbreaking defeat but admits progressing to the cup quarter-finals at the expense of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side would be scant consolation for the disappointment.

“I’m not sure about that. It was one of those experiences that I’m not sure I want to have too many of,” he said.

“It’s gone now. It is what it is. We have to move forward.

“We want to try and progress, we want to try and do well in the game. But we know we’re playing against a good opponent so it’s going to be tough but we’ll try.

“It’s one of the biggest clubs in the world, they’ve got a very deep squad, full of international top players and they will be fighting to play, whoever they select.

“We have to understand that and take the challenge on.”