Solskjaer concerned about playing surface

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has declared some dissatisfaction with the pitch where Manchester United will play AZ Alkmaar in Thursday night's Europa League game.

The surface at Den Haag's Cars Jeans Stadium, where AZ have had to move the fixture due to storm damage at their own ground, is artificial. Solskjaer admits he finds that surprising for a top Dutch club, given the weather in the Netherlands is well suited to natural grass, unlike the colder climes experienced elsewhere in European football.

Speaking during his pre-match press conference, the manager said:
“Of course, I’m used to astroturf pitches from back home in Norway and it’s not the best I’ve seen.

It’s one of the worst ones I’ve seen for a long while. It’s safe, it’s just not the newest.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Juan Mata at Wednesday's pre-match press conference
Solskjaer and Juan Mata spoke to the media on Wednesday afternoon.
When asked to elaborate, Ole replied:
“The grass is just on the floor, it’s on the carpet, more or less. I don’t think they’ve pulled the grass up - you do that loads when you have astroturf, so you get the grass to stand and be more bouncy. It seems like it’s been used a lot.

It is what it is. It’s the same for both teams. There’s a different style of football you have to play when you play on astroturf. From my experience, there are fewer tackles, so, in Norway, you don’t get as many good tacklers anymore. You get lazier in your head because the passes will get there anyway, it’s impossible to make a misplaced pass.

“I’m one of the first [generations] who grew up with astroturf - I’m used to it back home. With my knees, I’ve not really enjoyed astroturf anyway. But the boys will be okay.”
Despite his reservations about its use for this game, Ole would not agree with a ban on artificial pitches in European football.

“You can’t do that because you can’t force the Norwegian teams to have natural grass, so I don’t think that’s possible. But if I was running a club here [in the Netherlands], I wouldn’t have an astroturf pitch, if you had the chance to use natural grass.
Paul Pogba scores in Manchester United's Champions League away win over Young Boys in September 2018.
Paul Pogba scores in our last game on artificial turf, away to Young Boys in September 2018.
“I’m surprised in this climate that you have to use astroturf. It’s okay when you live in the North Pole, like we do in Norway, more or less, and you can’t play in March or November or December on grass. But, here, I’m surprised.”

United played on a synthetic surface in our first European away game of last season, when we beat Young Boys 3-0 at Stade de Suisse in Bern, Switzerland. The scorers were Paul Pogba (2) and Anthony Martial, both of whom have missed the AZ Alkmaar trip due to injury.

Reading this in our app? If not, you might miss some exclusive features not found on ManUtd.com. Download the Official App here.

Recommended: