There's a good reason why England didn't have a referee at the World Cup in 2018. They're not great.

Regular listeners to commentators will tell you the consensus is that Michael Oliver is the best official in the Premier League which is a tacit admission of just how bad the level of refereeing is down south.

If that seems unfair, a little context is needed. At one time, the cream of English referees had two jobs. For example, David Elleray, the doyen of 80s and 90s officiating was a geography teacher at Harrow, which Martin Tyler was always quick to point out during commentary when there was a lull in action.

Of course, these days they are referees first and foremost – no surprise given that a senior official can earn anything between £70,000 and £200,000 per season. Yet, there is a lack of accountability. Referees are distinct from players and managers in football in that they are not contractually obliged to appear before the media.

In Scotland, there is no requirement either, even if the SFA briefly dabbled with the idea on its Whistleblower website in 2006 when they decided to give referees a platform to explain decisions.

Within two years, though, it the website was pulled with Donald MacVicar, the head of referees, saying: “If a referee held his hand up and admitted he got something wrong it was being printed as 'ref admits blunder' or 'ref makes mistake' without really explaining the reasons behind it. The referees feel they are being treated harshly by the media.”

It was understandable that guys earning a fraction of what their English counterparts earn should find the spotlight of media attention unfair, especially when, as Willie Collum revealed recently, it was affecting his mental health.

It's a different story in England, though. At the vast sums they earn they should be held to high standards. Despite earning those vast sums, referees in England are only held accountable to the people who put them in charge in the first place and so anything that exposes them to criticism or scrutiny has to be avoided.

A simple appearance before the press to explain a wrong decision would work wonders but that just doesn't happen presumably because the referees feel they should be above explaining those decisions and that it would undermine their integrity.

It is a strange code of omerta – referees are criticised no matter what. It goes with the territory of the job, pre-dating social media when a benighted official would be treated to lyrical masterpieces such as 'the referee's a w*****' and the outright slanderous 'cheat, cheat, cheat'.

A sign of how much easier their jobs are in relation to their Scottish counterparts came with the introduction of VAR last season but there was plenty of evidence to suggest that Professional Game Match Officials Limited made a botch job of its implementation.

Nary a week went by without multiple controversies in matches, most of them contrived by the ludicrous decision – a portent of social distancing measures to come – to defer VAR decisions to an official sitting in a Portakabin in west London.

Yet the roll out of the systems should have been key especially with ambiguity over new rules such as that on penalties – which again were exposed for their poor construction by the award enjoyed by Liverpool against Leeds United on Saturday when Robin Koch was penalised for a ball deflecting on to his hand off his knee.

By the letter of the law it was a correct decision but never more was a dictum more befitting of Dicken's observation of the law's asinine qualities. In short, the laws and human interpretation of them are to blame not VAR.

Witness the vagaries around the offside law for further proof. There was a time when attacking players were meant to have the benefit of the doubt so why is a toenail offside? And why is scoring a goal perceived as a worse outcome from such a decision than it not being given?

As such, the clamour for VAR to be consigned to the dustbin of history was loud and vocal all throughout last season but it is here to stay. And that is a good thing.

The critics will say it has interrupted the flow of games but again, that is down to implementation. Worse than that there has been ambiguity over how VAR arrived at decisions. In all other sports where VAR has been a success there has been no such secrecy. Again, that's on the PGMOL.

One moment during Saturday's return to Premier League action demonstrated that there was a simple solution all along – you know the one that the rest of Europe implemented and the Premier League didn't: give the on-field official the chance to review his own decision and then, with the benefit of fresh evidence, allow him to change it.

Which is exactly what happened when Jon Moss reviewed his decision to send off Southampton's Kyle Walker-Peters for a high-foot challenge on Crystal Palace's Tyrick Mitchell at Selhurst Park on Saturday afternoon. One would have to ask Mike Riley why it wasn't implemented in the first instance. We might have to wait a while for an answer.

In the meantime, though, we've learned that, implemented correctly, VAR actually works.