Fuming Jose worried about Mkhi on ‘unplayable’ pitch

Date published: Wednesday 8th March 2017 12:30

Jose Mourinho is unsure whether to play Henrikh Mkhitaryan on Rostov’s “problem” pitch in the Europa League.

Manchester United are facing yet another pitch “problem” as Rostov manager Ivan Daniliants believes the state of the Olimp-2 surface will shock the Europa League favourites.

Mourinho’s 20-man squad made the long trip to Russia on Tuesday ahead of the first leg of their last-16 clash on Thursday evening.

The United boss called the tie a “bad draw in every aspect” and now has concerns about the state of the pitch in Rostov to contend with.

Speaking at his press conference on Wednesday, Mourinho hit out at the standard of the playing surface.

“It is hard for me to believe that we are going to play on that field, if you can call it a field,” he said. “I don’t know what team to play.

“I was expecting something more playable. In a very similar pitch in the summer in China [pre-season] we decided not to play but it looks like we have to play.

“I told one gentleman from UEFA of my concerns. He just told me the players are insured, so what happens to them is no problem.”

Asked whether Mkhitaryan, available again after recovering from a hamstring strain, the manager replied: “I don’t know if Henrikh Mkhitaryan is going to play. I don’t know.”

UEFA has confirmed the home team will train at their nearby training ground rather than at the Olimp-2 in a bid to avoid unnecessary damage to a pitch that Daniliants believes will shock the visitors.

“The pitch is the same for everyone, but it will still be a problem,” he said.

“In the final of the League Cup (when they beat Southampton at Wembley), United played on an ideal lawn – it was like a carpet.

“When they arrive here, they will be surprised.”

It would not be the first time United have had problems with a pitch since Mourinho’s arrival, starting in July when the Bird’s Nest quagmire cost them a money-spinning pre-season friendly against Manchester City in Beijing.

In December, the Portuguese was angry with UEFA for making United play their Europa League group-stage decider at Zorya Luhansk on a frozen pitch, with players’ studs clacking on the surface the night before the game.

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