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

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there