Mourinho: 'Rostov's pitch is hard to believe'
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho's wish to have the Europa League clash at Rostov this evening called off due to the state of the pitch has fallen on deaf ears, with UEFA confirming it will go ahead as planned despite the surface not being in "perfect condition".
Having described the last-16 tie as a "bad draw in every aspect", the United manager's feelings only worsened upon inspection of the Olimp-2 stadium surface ahead of the first leg.
Mourinho compared the pitch to the Bird's Nest quagmire that saw United's money-spinning pre-season friendly against Manchester City in Beijing called off last summer. But United will have to play on this sandy, loose surface as UEFA has confirmed the last-16 first leg will go ahead as planned.
A statement from European football's governing body said: "A pitch inspection has been carried out by the match officials on Wednesday. "The playing surface may not be in perfect condition, but has been deemed playable. The match will go ahead as scheduled." Having described the Europa League last-16 tie as a "bad draw in every aspect", the United manager's feelings only worsened upon inspection of the Olimp-2 stadium surface yesterday. "It's still hard for me to believe that we are going to play (there)," a visibly angered 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 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." This is not the first time Mourinho has been irked by UEFA's decision to deem a surface playable in United's Europa League run.
The Portuguese was not happy with European football's governing body for making United play the group-stage decider at Zorya Luhansk on a frozen pitch and was unimpressed by the surface in St Etienne last month. "I didn't have any contact with anyone until now (about the pitch)," Mourinho said of his communication with UEFA.
I just had a quick contact with one gentleman from UEFA when I was looking at the pitch. "And when I told him about my concerns, the gentleman just told me, 'The players are insured, if something happens no problem'."
Rostov v Manchester Utd (live eir Sport 1/BT Sport 2, ko 6.00pm)