YAROSLAVL OBLAST, Russia, Mar 8 – Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho says the pitch in Rostov is so poor he is surprised Thursday’s Europa League game is going ahead.
United face FK Rostov in the first leg of their Europa League last-16 tie and the Russian side’s manager Ivan Daniliants had already warned that United might find the pitch “a problem”.
Having inspected the playing surface, Mourinho agreed with that assessment and compared it to the pitch at Beijing’s Bird’s Nest Stadium, which was meant to host United’s pre-season friendly against Manchester City before it was called off.
“It’s still hard for me to believe that we are going to play,” said Mourinho.
“I know that we have to, but it is hard for me to believe we are going to play on that field – if you can call it a field.
“And I don’t know what team to play, really. I don’t know if Henrikh Mkhitaryan is going to play, I don’t know.
“I have now a lot to think, because I was expecting something more playable.
“In a very similar pitch in the summer in China, we and Manchester City decided not to play. But it looks like we have to play.”
Mourinho added that he has raised his concerns with a UEFA official.
“I just had a quick contact with one gentleman from UEFA when I was looking at the pitch,” he reported.
“And, when I told him about my concerns, the gentleman just told me, ‘The players are insured, if something happens no problem’.”
Despite the state of the pitch, United’s top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic appears set to feature on Thursday night.
The Swede has been handed a three-game domestic ban after admitting an FA charge of violent conduct, a turn of events Mourinho refused to comment on.
“No reaction, he plays tomorrow,” said Mourinho. “I don’t comment about the domestic decision.”
By Sky Sports