David Moyes has admitted his concern about the state of the pitch in Hong Kong and must now make a decision whether to go ahead with Manchester United's scheduled tour game on it, against Kitchee FC tomorrow.
United have already cancelled an open training session scheduled for today at the Hong Kong Stadium because of concerns about player safety. The pitch has been heavily criticised by the teams that have just taken part in the recent Asia Cup after a torrential downpour turned it into a quagmire. More rain yesterday only compounded the problem.
"I do have concerns about the surface," Moyes said. "It is mainly due to the weather but we can't do anything about that."
Tottenham's manager, Andre Villas-Boas, has already blamed the conditions for an injury suffered by Jan Vertonghen in a game there on Thursday against Sunderland, whose manager Paolo Di Canio called it a "killer pitch".
It has turned into a rather frustrating summer for Moyes, with the Asia Tour leaving him with more questions than answers and a transfer window in which the big signings remain elusive, plus a Wayne Rooney transfer riddle to solve and doubters gaining voice.
Moyes said last week in Japan that the new season's title race would be closer than for many years – and he wasn't just looking after his own back when he did so. His predecessor at United may have been handed a long stretch to achieve success, but Moyes knows things have changed and his new club will not tolerate more than one season out of the limelight.
However he also recognises that there is now not so much between the real title contenders. And surely a season of transition can only be expected of a man following the most successful manager the game has known.
United claim to have some four million fans in Japan and have extended their far-reaching commercial arm to tap into that. But what is the hidden cost?
And what has the benefit of the tour been to Moyes? Asked if he was any closer to knowing what his starting line-up will be for United's Premier League opener against Swansea on 17 August, he said: "I'm still getting to know the players. I have several back home who I've not met yet because of international duties. We've got three games before the season starts so we'll go back to Europe and look at it then."
He will be cheered by the form of his younger players, in particular Wilfried Zaha, who equalised in the 91st-minute in the 2-2 draw against Cerezo Osaka on Friday. The defender Rio Ferdinand said: "The most pleasing part [of the match] was the young lads who came on. Jesse Lingard, Adnan Januzaj and Tom Cleverley. They made an impact and helped get us the goal at the end."Reuse content