'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
A Brazilian wandering spider
news

World's most lethal spider found under a bunch of bananas

News
people
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in the win over QPR
footballInternet reacts to miss shocker for Liverpool striker
Voices
Sol Campbell near his home in Chelsea
voices
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
News
Kimi the fox cub
newsBurberry under fire from animal rights group - and their star, Kimi
Sport
Fans of Palmeiras looks dejected during the match between Palmeiras and Santos
footballPalmeiras fan killed trying to 'ambush' bus full of opposition supporters
Arts and Entertainment
filmsIt's nearly a wrap on Star Wars: Episode 7, producer reveals
Life and Style
fashion
News
i100
News
<p>Jonathan Ross</p>
<p>Jonathan Ross (or Wossy, as he’s affectionately known) has been on television and radio for an extraordinarily long time, working on a seat in the pantheon of British presenters. Hosting Friday Night with Jonathan Ross for nine years, Ross has been in everything from the video game Fable to Phineas and Ferb. So it’s probably not so surprising that Ross studied at Southampton College of Art (since rebranded Southampton Solent), a university known nowadays for its media production courses.</p>
<p>However, after leaving Solent, Ross studied History at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, now part of the UCL, a move that was somewhat out of keeping with the rest of his career. Ross was made a fellow of the school in 2006 in recognition of his services to broadcasting.</p>
TV

Rumours that the star wants to move on to pastures new

News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of Downton Abbey indulge in some racing at a Point to Point
tvNew pictures promise a day at the races and a loved-up Lady Rose
News
people

Comedian says he 'never laughed as hard as I have writing with Rik'

Arts and Entertainment
Tim Wonnacott dancing the pasadoble
TVStrictly Come Dancing The Result
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

Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

Terry Venables column

Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

Michael Calvin's Inside Word

Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past