Europa League staples Manchester United should probably be used to the particular quirks of Europe’s JV competition by now, but it still has to suck to step onto your opponent’s pitch—in this case, Russian club Rostov’s—the day before a match and realize just how awful playing surfaces can be.
The ideal soccer pitch is a thick and damp carpet of lush, green grass. Rostov’s pitch ... well, it looks like this:
And not only is it as much dirt as it is grass, it’s also hard as hell:
United manager José Mourinho is, understandably, pretty baffled by the state of things:
“It’s still hard for me to believe that we are going to play (there),” Mourinho said.
“I know that we have to, but it is hard for me to believe we are going to play (on Thursday) 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 [who is just coming back from injury] is going to play, I don’t know.
“I have now a lot to think (about) 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.”
At least Rostov’s pitch probably isn’t any worse than the one United played on in Ukraine a couple months ago. Never has fourth place in the Premier League table looked so alluring.