Pep Guardiola is concerned he could lose players to injury because of the state of Manchester City’s pitch.
The City manager feels his club are far from top of the league when it comes to their playing surface, casting an envious eye towards rivals Manchester United and Liverpool.
As he takes his team to Fulham on Saturday, Guardiola is expecting a far-from-perfect pitch at Craven Cottage, but it is issues at home that Guardiola wishes he could control.
City are streaking away in the Premier League, looking set for a third title in four years, and they could yet achieve an unprecedented quadruple.
But for Guardiola, City are achieving their success while being hampered by an Etihad Stadium problem: when autumn and winter comes, their pitch deteriorates.
“We have tried from day one, we have tried every season to find a solution, knowing that the weather’s going to change so the sun will not come,” Guardiola said.
“We have to try to find a way that for as much time as possible, and the time from October, November until March, the grass can be better as much as possible.
“We need it for, of course, avoiding injuries. So our football can be better for many, many reasons.
“And I’m sure the club will try to do, as it always has done and always does, the best to find a solution.”
PEP They are working a lot to find a solution, but the grass isn’t good. All the players know how good the grass is and sometimes it is not. There are stadiums where the grass is good. Arsenal, Anfield, Old Trafford – even Budapest, the grass is better. Our grass is not good.
— Manchester City (@ManCity) March 12, 2021
City’s next Etihad Stadium assignment is due to be the April 10 clash with Leeds United, given next Tuesday’s Champions League second leg against Borussia Monchengladbach has been switched to Budapest. That will be played at the Puskas Arena, which has a pitch Guardiola has described as like “a red carpet”.
Guardiola, who borrowed the golf terminology of ‘greenkeeper’ to describe the City groundsmen, joked his team might have caused the damage to the pitch with a shabby style of football.
The reality is that City are perhaps the easiest team on the eye in the Premier League.
“I’m not a greenkeeper so I cannot give you a solution, the reason why, but the reality is not good,” Guardiola said of City’s pitch problem. “Maybe it’s because our quality of football isn’t good enough and we destroyed the grass, but I don’t know.
“They give me the reasons and they give the reasons to the club and we follow and say, ‘okay, this is what it is’, and we accept it because I cannot argue with them because I’m not a greenkeeper.”