As Manchester United prepare for the last-16 first leg of their Europa League tie against Rostov, Jose Mourinho has declared his anger at the state of the patchwork Olimp-2 stadium surface comparing it to a field.
Mourinho was speaking at the South Russian Club and said he’d called for the game to be called off because of the surface being threadbare, uneven and loose, posing a threat to player safety.
Mourinho said: “It is still hard for me to believe we going to play tomorrow on that field, if you can call it a field and I don’t know which team to play [select], really. It’s a very similar pitch to the one in summer in China – we and Man City decided not to play but it looks like we have to play [on Thursday].”
The United manager would have to make a formal request to UEFA by Thursday afternoon if they wish to postpone the match.
“I don’t know. I spoke to one Uefa official and he said: ‘It doesn’t matter if one of the players gets injured as they are insured,’” Mourinho continued.
Rostov coach Ivan Daniliants had already warned that United might find the pitch a problem and on Wednesday decided to train at their nearby training ground rather than at the Olimp-2, in a bid to avoid damaging the surface any further.
The Portuguese has picked a 20 man squad for Thursday’s game that includes top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic, currently serving a 3-game domestic ban for violent conduct, but the state of the pitch could affect the final team selection. At the moment Mourinho is unsure whether to risk playing Henrikh Mkhitaryan who has recently recovered from a hamstring injury.
Manchester United’s 20-man squad: De Gea, Romero, O’Hara; Valencia, Jones, Rojo, Smalling, Blind, Darmian, Young; Carrick, Herrera, Fellaini, Pogba, Mata, Lingard, Mkhitaryan; Martial, Rashford, Ibrahimovic