Milner: Wembley turf is worse than many non-league pitches

James Milner, the member of Fabio Capello's squad who worked harder than any other in Sunday's Carling Cup final, yesterday declared the state of the Wembley pitch to be worse than non-league standard and "one of the worst" he has played on all season.

Milner struggled to keep his feet on the surface on Sunday, as did most of the Aston Villa and Mancheter United players, and said it reflected poorly on the English game. "It was very difficult. It's slippery and cutting up so hopefully it can improve because it wasn't good," he said. "You work as hard as you can to get to a Wembley cup final and it's probably one of the worst pitches you play on all season. Hopefully it can be rectified because growing up and watching games at Wembley everyone's says it was like playing on a carpet. Obviously in a cup final you want to be playing in a great stadium – which it is – and on a great pitch."

Privately, Fabio Capello believes the state of the pitch is desperately poor and is surprised that the Football Association allowed a rugby match to be staged on the pitch so close to England's final pre-World Cup warm-up game at Wembley. Saracens played Worcester Warriors in the Guinness Premiership on 13 February. If a World Cup qualifying match were being played tomorrow, Capello would be prepared to take issue with his employers and refuse to play on the surface, though since the match is only a friendly, he is willing to accept the pitch as it is.

Though the FA is taking encouragement from a dry, bright day in London yesterday, which it believes will improve the quality of the surface for the match with Egypt, Milner said Sunday's final had taken its toll. "Speaking to a few of the lads who are here who played yesterday – they are feeling sapped because it's heavy. But it's been raining a lot as well so you have to take that into account," he said.

The FA was yesterday reviewing all aspects of Sunday's final, though the 80mm rain-levels in the week leading up to the event plus heavy overnight rain on Saturday, will be factored it. Wembley attempted to contend with the rain by experimenting with an inflatable tarpaulin overnight, which prevented any risk of the game being cancelled. The possibility of the pitch being relayed for April's FA Cup semi-finals has not been ruled out. It was the way the pitch played in those fixtures last year which prompted the outcry preceding the last re-lay.

There was a view from within the groundkeeping fraternity yesterday that the severity of the toughest winter in 30 years, with a snow covering preventing access to the turf for long periods, should be factored in and that Wembley has actually shown more respect for the ground staff by limiting sporting events on the pitch to just four since England last played on it against Belarus on 14 October.

Milner has been called up by Capello as a defender for tomorrow's game, though reflected yesterday that he much preferred the central midfield role which, to his mind, has made this his best club season. "Centre suits my game more because I can use my work-rate and influence the game," Milner said. "Sometimes out wide you have to be patient and wait for people to bring you in. That's part of the role to keep that discipline and keep that shape. There is competition for places all over the pitch which means that it probably helps to be able to play in a number of positions."

Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
News
A poster by Durham Constabulary
news
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine