'Collapsed' pitch at Old Trafford set to be replaced

Darren Fletcher has been unable to play on current surface

Sir Alex Ferguson has confirmed Manchester United will rip up their Old Trafford pitch in the summer after it became so heavy Darren Fletcher has been unable to play on it.

Scotland international Fletcher has been a notable absentee during United's packed festive programme.

After battling back to fitness after being struck down by a chronic bowel condition, Fletcher was involved in four matches in the space of a fortnight at the end of last month.

However, he was on the pitch for just a minute of United's festive campaign, being introduced as a late substitute in the Boxing Day win over Newcastle.

And the reason, according to Ferguson, lies in a surface he says has simply "collapsed".

"The pitches over the last few weeks have not suited Darren," Ferguson said. "They are really heavy pitches. Unfortunately, Old Trafford seems to have collapsed in the last two weeks.

"We have had six great years out of the pitch. Our groundsman, Tony Sinclair, has done a fantastic job. But it is looking tired now and I think we will have a new pitch in the summer."

It leaves Fletcher sweating on a place in Ferguson's squad for tomorrow's FA Cup third-round tie at West Ham, which Wayne Rooney will definitely miss with a knee injury.

Rooney suffered the knock in training on Christmas Day, with Ferguson initially thinking the England striker would be back in action within a fortnight, in time for next Sunday's key clash with Liverpool.

However, Ferguson today confirmed that timescale will not be met, with Rooney now likely to be sidelined for the January 20 trip to Tottenham as well.

"It is nothing serious," Ferguson added. "He just got clipped behind his knee. We sent him for a scan and nothing showed up but he is still feeling it. Hopefully two weeks will sort it.

"It is not that we can't cope, because we have not had our best squad available all season, particularly in defence.

"Nonetheless it is a loss. Although we are in great form you always want your best players available for the big games."

Nothing can be taken for granted though, as Ferguson's injury assessments are not always accurate.

For instance, the initial timescale put on Nani's hamstring strain was 10 days, but only now, two months on, is the Portugal winger ready to rejoin training.

United can only hope Rooney is not sidelined for a similar period, as that would mean him missing the Champions League trip to Real Madrid at the beginning of next month.

United have played in four Champions League semi-finals, reaching the final on three occasions, since the last of their record 11 victories in the FA Cup.

Of their present squad, Fletcher, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes are the only ones with winners' medals, with even Rio Ferdinand missing out on that 2004 victory over Millwall due to the ban he served for missing a drugs test.

"Rio has been with us 10 years and not won the FA Cup," Ferguson added. "It is amazing. We will have to do something about it."

Although many would view United's success in Europe and relative failure in the FA Cup as confirmation of their priorities, Ferguson points to instances of bad luck in the world's oldest cup competition.

He still feels aggrieved at final losses to Arsenal in 2005 and Chelsea in 2007, both of which he felt were undeserved.

Semi-final defeats to Everton and Manchester City are more recent, with a run of matches against Arsenal, City twice, an away tie at Liverpool and now an encounter with West Ham at Upton Park underlining that the draw has not been particularly kind either.

"Over the last three or four years we have had some really difficult ties," Ferguson added.

"When the draw comes out you hope for either a home tie or one you can navigate. This is a particularly hard one.

"But I always feel, at a club like ours, the closer we get to Wembley, the better we become."

PA

News
people Biographer says cinema’s enduring sex symbol led a secret troubled life
News
newsGlobal index has ranked the quality of life for OAPs - but the UK didn't even make it into the top 10
News
people

Kirstie Allsopp has waded into the female fertility debate again

News
In 2006, Pluto was reclassified as a 'dwarf planet'
scienceBut will it be reinstated?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people
News
Researchers say a diet of fatty foods could impede smell abilities
scienceMeasuring the sense may predict a person's lifespan
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
News
Gillian Anderson was paid less than her male co-star David Duchovny for three years while she was in the The X-Files until she protested and was given the same salary
people

Gillian Anderson lays into gender disparity in Hollywood

Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Life and Style
fashionThe Secret Angels all take home huge sums - but who earns the most?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsA Welsh town has changed its name - and a prize if you can notice how
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

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?