Rochdale pitch a “massive risk” to players, says Mauricio Pochettino

Rochdale pitch a “massive risk” to players, says Mauricio Pochettino

Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino has criticised the state of Spurs’ FA Cup opponents Rochdale‘s pitch, calling the conditions a “massive risk” to players.

The Argentine issued a plea for the Football Association to “take a decision” before the Lilywhites travel to Spotland Stadium next weekend, after the League One side previously had two home matches postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.

Rochdale beat Millwall on Tuesday to progress to the next round of the Cup but the state of the pitch was met with criticism – it was heavily sanded but eventually turned ragged after the first half.

“It is not a pitch in a condition to play football,” Pochettino said according to BBC Sport, whose team beat Newport County 2-0.

“I think the FA needs to assess the pitch and then to take a decision if it is good for the FA Cup, good for the players, for the team and players to play on this type of pitch.

“I think it is about providing a safe place to play for the players,” said the Argentine.

“I think it is a big risk to play on a pitch like this, if the pictures give us an accurate state. If it is like what I saw in the pictures I don’t think you can play football.

“Not because we are Tottenham – Rochdale I think too cannot play there. It is a massive risk for their players too. The FA needs to go in and take a good decision for football.”

Russ Green, Rochdale’s chief executive, dismissed the potentially dangerous and harmful conditions of the pitch, stating that there was no fear of injuries during the Millwall clash.

According to the FA rules, venues for cup games are allowed to be changed in extreme circumstances, though the BBC report that the FA will offer Rochdale a “subsidised pitch protection service” – which would lead to providing independent additional support through the means of extra ground staff and foundation support.

The FA has discussed the matter with Rochdale and will continue to speak following a home game against Fleetwood this weekend.

“We didn’t endanger anybody’s careers and I don’t care if it’s a Tottenham player or a Millwall player – they are still professional footballers,” Green said.

“Has anyone spoken to the referee? He told me after the game and said he couldn’t believe the pitch stood up to what it did.

“If it’s financially viable, we would put down a new pitch before the cup tie. It’s something we’re considering doing.

“Has anybody looked at the weather we’ve had over the past 12 months? We had 289 days of rain last year – 4ft 11.5in of it. We’ve had to overcome exceptional circumstances.”