WHAT THE PAPERS SAY

WHAT THE PAPERS SAY

The extracts on this page are taken from selected national newspapers. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of Manchester United.

20/04/2009 08:58

Papers: Pitch not perfect

Fever pitch: Wembley not fit for my stars

Sir Alex Ferguson blamed a dodgy Wembley pitch for his decision to play a reserve team in an FA Cup semi-final. Ferguson's Manchester United team saw their dreams of a five-trophy season go up in smoke as a second-string team lost a penalty shootout to Everton. The United manager pointed the finger at Wembley, echoing complaints of the weekend's other semi-final loser, Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger. Sir Alex Ferguson reacts furiously after his side were denied a penalty and he later hit out at the Wembley pitch. Ferguson said: "We had a team picked after Wednesday's game in Porto but when I saw the pitch yesterday I didn't want to go into extra time with our strongest squad. I couldn't let that happen because of the affect it could have. We had to take the bold decision of going with the younger ones but Berbatov and Scholes would have started, possibly Evra, too. Looking at the pitch, it looked dead and today it looked the same. It looked spongey and dead and difficult to move the ball about quickly. You'd think the lights would help the growth and standard of the pitch, but it looked dead to me. You couldn't risk it."
Ian Ladyman, Daily Mail

The papers are naturally full of post-mortems on United's FA Cup exit, with the penalty incident taking up column inches in publications including The Sun ("Quintoppled! Fergie blames ref Riley as United dream ends") and the Daily Mirror ("Two Jags: hero Jagielka gets away with a penalty... then hits spot winner in shoot-out").

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