Alex Ferguson hopeful Old Trafford pitch will improve after labelling it 'a worry'

Manchester United boss blamed the pitch on Wednesday night for a poor display

Sir Alex Ferguson is crossing his fingers that a change in the weather and an easing match schedule will lead to an improvement in the state of Manchester United's Old Trafford pitch.

Ever since Ferguson revealed the pitch had "collapsed" over Christmas, there have been huge concerns over the playing surface.

It was particularly bad during Wednesday's win over Southampton, when Ferguson admitted it was "a worry", and the United boss has confirmed the pitch will be replaced in the summer.

In the meantime, with decent gap between Southampton's visit and the arrival of Everton on February 10, and another nine-day gap after that until Reading arrive for an FA Cup fifth-round tie, Ferguson has been left to hope the usually dire Manchester weather takes a turn for the better.

"We have to hope for better weather and a bit more sun," said Ferguson.

"We've got artificial lights on it all the time which really helps but the more light we get the better it is for the pitch.

"We're changing the whole pitch in the summer but at the moment it's not good."

After enduring a period when they were forced to change the pitch virtually every season, United have gone nine years without ripping it up.

Groundsman Tony Sinclair has in the past been voted United's employee of the year, so successful has he been in sorting out the huge problems inherent in cultivating a suitable playing surface in a stadium that gets very little natural light due to its size.

Now, though, it has reached the point of no return, which considering the number of matches still to be played on it, including a Champions League clash with Real Madrid on March 5, may prove to be a handicap.

"It's definitely a bit worn out," said Ferguson. "The groundsmen work their socks off and Tony Sinclair is as concerned as anyone.

"We've declined to replace the turf because we believe Tony will get it right.

"But there's no question it's still recovering from those two games over Christmas.

"That killed us and it's never been the same since."

PA

PROMOTED VIDEO
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.

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us