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Wembley not Mexico poses biggest threat to England

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Dan Roan | 09:12 UK time, Monday, 24 May 2010

It is not only the likes of Ledley King, Jamie Carragher and Adam Johnson who will come under close scrutiny at Wembley on Monday. The stakes have surely never been higher for the national stadium's infamous pitch.

Ever since the turf was ripped up following the FA Cup semi-finals, England's friendly match against Mexico has stood out as the one which has caused most concern.

Given the prize on offer, a poor surface for the Championship play-off final was regrettable. Considering the worldwide television audience, an FA Cup final pitch described as "terrible" by John Terry was nothing short of an embarrassment - and no doubt added to the concern over the country's 2018 bid.

But on Monday the potential for damage reaches its peak. If the turf causes an injury to any of England's players only a week before coach Fabio Capello's announces his World Cup squad, then the levels of public anger towards Wembley - and those responsible for it - will reach unprecedented levels.

Do not be fooled by Capello's surprisingly calm assessment of the pitch when we asked him about it at England's training camp in Austria last week. His opinion that it was "not perfect" may be the understatement of the year.

There remains genuine worry inside the England camp that the already fragile fitness of players like Rio Ferdinand and Ledley King could be exacerbated by the Wembley pitch.

As for Wayne Rooney, his damaged ankle, sustained in March, is still being treated, the striker sitting out some sessions in Austria to give him time to regain full fitness.

Wayne Rooney chats to Fabio CapelloWill Capello risk Rooney against Mexico? Photo: Getty Images

Capello has spoken of Rooney's admirable desire to play every match he can, but the Italian will be all too aware that the striker suffered a knee problem earlier this season when he played at Wembley twice in quick succession. "The Wembley pitch killed him," fumed Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson at the time.

Remember that Capello has already lost one possible World Cup candidate to the Wembley pitch. Michael Owen, who has played in the last five major tournaments in which England have competed, was undoubtedly back on Capello's radar when he ruptured his hamstring playing at Wembley in the Carling Cup final. Again, Sir Alex was clear in his diagnosis. The pitch, which he described as a "ploughed field", was to blame.

Losing Owen is one thing but England cannot afford to be without Rooney in South Africa. It will be interesting to see for how long Capello risks him against Mexico, if at all.

Ominously, Blackpool midfielder Gary Taylor-Fletcher departed Wembley on crutches on Saturday after twisting his ankle in the play-off win over Cardiff. The midfielder said the injury was "the fault of the ground after the studs got caught" and has told England's players to "be careful". Rooney and co have been warned.

"The FA have to decide if this is a football pitch or an events stadium," said Terry a week ago. The Chelsea captain's frustration was understandable but the reality is that the governing body has no choice. The Green Day concerts and NFL matches will continue.

Why? Because of the £425m the FA borrowed in order to pay for it, the stadium has to remain a multi-purpose venue until at least 2023 to generate maximum revenue and afford interest payments that were as high as £27m in 2007/08.

The current pitch is the 11th laid since Wembley opened three years ago but there could be as many as seven new pitches a year for the next 13 years.

The Institute of Groundsmanship (IOG), angered when one of its most esteemed operators, Steve Welch, was sacked as Wembley's head groundsman last year, was relieved to be asked to help solve the problem following the FA Cup semi-finals.

But the IOG is disappointed and surprised that, five weeks ago to the day since giving its views at a special summit with Wembley's managing director, Roger Maslin, it has yet to be asked back. Nor has Wembley reviewed its decision not to have a head groundsman.

Talking of which, the wonderful surface at the Santiago Bernabeu for Saturday's Champions League final was the work of an Englishman. Paul Burgess was responsible for the carpet at the Emirates before joining Real Madrid as head groundsman last year.

Since arriving at Madrid, Burgess has been credited with drastically improving the Bernabeu's playing surface, despite the challenges of a stadium that stands more than 2,000ft above sea level and which has to contend with drastically varying temperatures.

This time next year, at the end of the most intense time in its calendar, Wembley will again come under intense scrutiny again when it hosts the Champions League final. One cannot help think it might be worth the FA seeking the thoughts of Burgess before then.

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  • Comment number 1.

    You just know somebody's going to crock themselves tonight. The pitch is a complete farce.

  • Comment number 2.

    The Millennium Stadium is a multi-use stadium. While I don't think it had a great pitch at any stage, I don't think it was a big an issue as this was it? Is the difference between the two so huge that it drastically affects the surface, or is it simply mismanagement?

  • Comment number 3.

    Come on Mexico!! As an Englishman I hope we lose every game.

  • Comment number 4.

    There seems to be a lot said about the pitch. Some of it I suspect is just people looking for excuses for certain consequences, a bad game, an injury that might have happened anywhere, losing etc etc

    However, I don't think we have heard anything in the way of solutions from anybody have we? Is the stadium going to be used for a variety of events for the next n years? Is there a solution? If so, what is it?

    For certain events like concerts is the grass actually removed or just covered? Is being covered and trampled for a few days the end of that particular surface or could it be recovered?

    I think the moaning has become a bit fashionable but whatever substance there is, the moaning is also becoming a bit repetitive and tiresome.

    I hope it doesn't give rise to any particular problems tonight but can we start to think 'glass half full' rather than 'glass half empty' because it is what it is and we just have to get on with it.

  • Comment number 5.

    I wonder how many of the six Spurs players in the England squad will be on show against Mexico tonight?

    I'm hoping Michael Dawson wins his first full England cap (he has two at "B" level), as he's been absliutely 'awesome' for Spurs this season.

    The four Chelsea lads will be rested tonight by Capello, along with David James.

    And what are the chances for Giovani Dos Santos getting a game for the Mexicans too?

    All-inall, it should be an interesting game from the Spurs point of view.

    England have won their four previous home matches against Mexico scoring 16 in the process for no reply.

    England's full international record against Mexico 1959 to 2010:

  • Comment number 6.

    I'm going to lobby to move the Champions League Final to the Millenium Stadium!

    The Millenium hosts all manner of events too (including speedway) but I don't recall that they ever recieved this many complaints about their surface.

    It's got to the stage where managers are going to be on the phone to claims direct seeking compensation for injured players!

  • Comment number 7.

    It really does make you laugh that the new Wembley could be so expensive yet have one of the worst pitches going. I would have thought the pitch would have been the most important thing but it seems I am wrong. What I can't understand though is why the Premier League clubs can play week in, week out and have perfect pitches yet Wembley can not get it right and it is not even used that often!

  • Comment number 8.

    If the pitch poses such a risk at this crucial time, why does a 'friendly' have to be played at Wembley? What is wrong with playing at the Emirates or another British stdium, is it because of the revenue that the F.A.will lose? If we get knocked out in the first games, the revenue loss will be considerably higher.

  • Comment number 9.

    The even more laughable thing is that England team have to play on that surface while there are many better surface around the country.

    Why have not you changed the game to another stadium?

    How worthy the money you will make out of this game at the Wembley for the injuries it threatens to cause to your best players?


  • Comment number 10.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 11.

    Transfer all England games to Old Trafford for the next 10 years, and put concerts at Wembley every other day, or however many are possible. Let oligarchs and billionaires have their birthdays on it; get as much money as possible.

    The Old Trafford and Emirates pitches are perfectly suitable for international football, and have the infrastructure to be top class international stadiums.

    Then, at the end of the 10 year period, make Wembley a football-only perfect pitch that the world is once more envious of. England needs this so much.

    The only alternative is making it an artificial pitch, because the way things are going with the surface just cannot continue.

  • Comment number 12.

    I think the saddest thing is that it's going to have one of the worst pitches for another 10 years or so! Absolute joke that the FA let the project run so over budget in the first place when everyone loved England travelling round the country playing at different grounds anyway.

  • Comment number 13.

    Good blog overall Dan but I think it's a bit cheap to blame the current state of the pitch on the NFL match from last autumn. I know your general point was about it being used as a multi purpose venue but you seem to be highlighting this event in particular.

    How do clubs manage to cope that share with a rugby union/league team? The big failing of the Wembley pitch is not that it was wrong, many pitches get cut up. The failure was the repeated relaying of poor pitches where the appearance of the surface before the game seems to be more important than the health of the players. - English Footballers Abroad

  • Comment number 14.

    i think if the England squad are that concerned about the pitch then the team as a whole should boycott playing there so that they can play somewhere least that way you can gaurantee no-one will get injured by it.

    England has plenty of stadiums, just play somewhere else!

  • Comment number 15.

    The excuse of Wembley being a multi-purpose stadium as the reason why the pitch is bad. The old Wembley used to have football matches, rugby league matches, concerts etc every year and the pitch was perfect.

    I mean, the new Wembley is hardly overused is it? Premiership grounds stage 19 league games per season in addition to cup games. Wembley gets used sporadically throughout the year and sometimes with months in between events. Having 3 play-off finals and an England match in the space of 2 weeks is hardly asking too much.

    The real reason for the poor pitch is a fundamental design flaw in the stadium in so far as it lets in far too little light and has poor air circulation. The ground should have been built with this in mind like the Emirates was. It's shocking that a stadium that took £750m and 7 years to build has this flaw.

  • Comment number 16.

    I see a lot of common sense on the posts that suggest relocating England's matches to the Emirates or Old Trafford.
    So, if it is so obvious to us why is the FA turning blind eyes and deaf ears to such simple solution for the sake of the players well-being and, the country's beautiful game as a whole?
    As a foreigner I've always admired the British cool, detached, efficient analytical mind to problem solving but in this case a believe that the Marx Brothers sould be put in charge of running the show instead of the current leadership of the FA.
    It is not too late, boot the bums out and replace them with people who have the best interest of England's football at heart.
    And yes, the pitch of the Bernabeau was a dream of turf perfection.

  • Comment number 17.

    Why are so many people on these blog's seemingly advertising their own websites now?

  • Comment number 18.

    If we keep talking about turf, it's 'Sod's' Law that one or more of England's key players will come a cropper on it tonight bit like the 'metatarsal curse', but personally, I don't think the surface is as bad as some people make out and a lot slips etc are down to pre-conceptions it will be bad.

    There's always been a peculiar mystic surrounding Wembley's playing surface, but apart from some glorious 'Cup Final day' pitches in the late '70s early 80's the turf at the old place wasn't always 'bowling green' smooth - it always had that 'heavy' strength sapping 'cramp' inducing aura about it. I've seen some players go down with cramp there in the first half of important games? If the San Siro and Bernabau pitches - which were often dire can be sorted so easily - there's no reason to think Wembley's can't be either.
    ....just don't risk Rooney tonight Fabio, that ankle's not 100% ;)

  • Comment number 19.

    Could you imagine monster truck racing at Twickenham or Emirates. All the venues at World Cup 2006 looked better than Wembley, and all were cheaper.

  • Comment number 20.

    I'm trying to find a bookmaker that will take my bet that an England player is ruled out of the world cup after playing in tonight's match.

  • Comment number 21.

    And how on Earth is ripping up the pitch every five minutes helping the FA pay off the money it borrowed to build the thing? I bet relaying that costs them what they receive for a Green Day gig.

    Do the words 'False' and 'Economy' spring to anyone else's mind here?

  • Comment number 22.

    I normally look forward to England matches.. Friendlies included, but I can't get excited about tonights game. It will be lpayed at a walking pace, to ensure nobody gets injured (rightly, or wrongly) and we'll scrape an unconvincing, narrow win. The English Press will (as usual) cain the players and everybody associated with the National Team and we'll go into the World Cup in a wave of negativity and no confidence

    All in all, tonight at Wembley, is a lose-lose situation. Unless we win by a margin and we come out unscathed (which I fear is unlikely)

  • Comment number 23.

    I live in Swansea, the Liberty stadium has both rugby and football matches throughout the season and in the close season has concerts. Yet the pitch is one of the best you will find in the UK. All this is achieved on a fraction of the budget that Wembley has.

    Surely if there is not enough light / airflow getting to the pitch this can be manipulated with lamps / fans.

    Its not rocket science!

  • Comment number 24. now "the pitch" might determine the future of England in the World Cup?...unbelievable, what happened to playing football?...(hope other countries play friendly-games with significant "pitches" as well !!!..especially Brazil, Germany, Italy, Argentina, France, Uruguay and maybe Spain as well; even the playing field!).England seems to be really fine-tuning football skills with the "pitch"...perhaps a mm-degree-pitch per S.Africa. stadium will give us a clear advantage on how to play our rivals, unless the Mexico game-pith wipes the team out!!!

  • Comment number 25.

    ...England needs pitch-degrees for every South Africa stadium..this will be the edge over the competition (!!!)..Brazil doesn't seem to be to aware of this, lets keep it secret...

  • Comment number 26.

    ..should have had a friendly game with Brazil instead, and not played our best players..this way Brazil would enter the World Cup wiped out, fizzled out, and England would be ready to be the next champion!!

  • Comment number 27.

    The simple answer to the pitch problem is to ask Ipswich's head groundsman. He worked at St Andrews before Portman road and we have had the best pitch in whatever level we have played at since he has joined us.
    Including beating Arsenal when we where in the prem.

  • Comment number 28.

    I heard fro ma little birdy that the poor pitch was down to a huge design flaw. Lord Norman Foster forgot about the sun moving throughout the day and given that the pitch needs sunlight (and water) to nuture properly, it only gets a couple of hours a day. This unfortunately means that the Wembley pitch will NEVER be any good because they would have to admit that £475 million has been flushed down the toilet.

  • Comment number 29.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 30.

    Wembley has been a massive failure from the start in many respects.

    The pitch is just one of many problems. What I can't understand though is why they think the solution is to keep replacing it? A pitch needs time to settle and time for the roots to establish themselves. Turf will always be unstable for a couple of weeks after being laid as the roots don't have enough chance to get into the ground.

    If they left the pitch alone for 6 months and looked after it between events it'd be a lot stronger for it. As it is, hoping for a quick fix every time is never going to work.

  • Comment number 31.

    You'd have thought with all the money spent building Wembley that there'd have been enough money in the budget to lay a good pitch.

  • Comment number 32.

    What a pointless story..... Nobody will get crocked it will be a half paced non event.

  • Comment number 33.

    Which is more important to the FA, that England play on an accident waiting to happen 2 weeks before the biggest sports event in the world that only comes around once every 4 years, or that the team have the best chance of getting to SA in peak condition? If any of our players are injured by the pitch tonight I'll accept the resignation of the idiots that after how many years and how many millions of pounds sees us playing on a pitch inferior to my old school pitch, not forgetting that we went how many years without a national stadium being told that the demolition of the iconic twin towers was a price worth paying and the new stadium was worth waiting for. Did the FA check out the designer's proposals for the pitch? Were there any?

    FC should pick his weakest 11 and tell them to take it easy.

  • Comment number 34.

    schalke stadium has a removable pitch, as did some of the stadiums in japan, this should be incorporated into wembley, could be removed in jigsaw fashion and stored in open air to allow the grass/pitch to bed in between games.

    May be a logistical problem carrying the 'pieces' out but why can't a easible option like this be used. they could have multiple pitchs i.e. an england/fa cup final pitch and also one for american football etc

  • Comment number 35.

    It seems clear from the outset that the FA got their priorities wrong.
    The problem now is that they are too stubborn to admit this. Maybe it will take a 'crocked' Rooney to shake them out of their apparent complacency.

  • Comment number 36.

    ...what Group is Wembley playing in?...I don't think they'll get passed the 1st round (Wembley that is, "the biggest threat")..if they do, the Final will be Wembley-Brazil...

  • Comment number 37.

    The English National stadium should never have been rebuilt at Wembley. That was done to satisfy this country's reluctance to let go of things and live forever in the past. The old Wembley was nowt special, I remember my first trip there as a kid in the early 80s; my first impressions were what a dump!

    Shouldn't 'English' fans' traveling been taken into account instead of tradation? Why not Leeds, Manchester or Sheffield? Easy to get to but I suppose that doesn't pander to the London-centric Ingurlish! Madness!

  • Comment number 38.

    ..Wembley could wipe the entire team out!..poor Mexico as well, they had high hopes for the World Cup !!

  • Comment number 39.

    Am I right in thinking England are training at Arsenal's London Colney facility? If so, they are training on a better pitch than they will be using for the actual game! We have better pitches at Premier League training facilities than we have at our national stadium! What a joke.

  • Comment number 40.

    Sounds similar to the Millenium stadium to me. The first few years the pitch quality was appalling and was relaid many times. Last couple of years though its really improved - this year's 6 Nations it was the best I can remember.

    Sounds like Wembley's problems are a management issue - those in charge are unwilling to get the right people in to fix the problem, or they are asking the right people but not acting on their advice.

  • Comment number 41.

    The pitch looks OK on TV, what exactly is the problem with it?

  • Comment number 42.

    fabios not stupid he'll put out a weaker team tonight but i still think we'll win 6 1 without any injuries, no ones gonna be taking it easy when theres 7 players about to be dropped!

    people need to stop moaning about the pitch, the fa has no option but to use it for multi events, this wouldn't normally be a problem its just certain times of the year things will clash, its because everyone moans that they keep laying a new pitch, this is the problem it never gets a chance to bed in so the the grass just slides off before it roots properly,
    now its had time to bed in properly but during that time its had about 10 quick fixtures played on it so its bound to be cut up in places.

    during the world cup the wembley pitch could of gone back to perfect again but there will be a concert soon and then the fa will lay a new pitch again and be back to square 1 because england will play a euro qualifier on it lol

  • Comment number 43.

    Is talking constantly about the wembley pitch doing anyone elses head in?

  • Comment number 44.

    I wish people would stop going on about the Wembley pitch, It may be the national stadium and should showcase the best of Englands pitches, but it doesnt, thats the way it is,

    The players should be good enough to play on pitches like that anyway, Having seen the pitch on the TV it doesnt even look that bad, people should get on with it and stop worrying about the pitch,

    Sunday league pitches are far worse than that and you don't see hundreds of thousands of amateurs complaining about the pitches, even the lower proffessional league pitches aren't ideal, even Wigans DW stadium is a rough surface after february but thats the way the game is, the top players are far too sheltered, they should learn to put up and shut up!!

  • Comment number 45.

    Hmmm - all a little "let's blame the pitch" isn't it ?

    I'm sure the powers that be at the SFA would allow you to use Hampden Park for a test of both a good pitch and a relatively hostile crowd.

    Let's face - all Hampden has had recently was that festival of Highland Country Dancing when Dundee United played Dingwall Thistle - or whatever their name was.

    Come on England - you invented the game - on pitches that didn't break a metatarsal, twist an ankle, or pull a hamstring for more than a 100 years .... could it possibly be that the boys are just not up for it ?

    Surely not ......

  • Comment number 46.

    isnt NFL american football? why is that played at wembley? i allways thought wembley was only for football
    are there that much american soldiers in england, or have english warmed up to it:)

  • Comment number 47.

    Yes, the one NFL match every year or so will continue to cause a massive problem.
    Also, isn't the pitch a danger to the NFL players as well.

  • Comment number 48.

    tonight is the first time I am not bothered whether England win or not.

    the only important thing is whether Rooney walks off tonight not injured

  • Comment number 49.

    Am I missing something here? We know the pitch sucks, is treacherous and dangerous. It won't have changed a whole lot since the weekend (D'OH!) -So instead of risking injuries to expensive players pre-World Cup, why not... FIND AN ALTERNATIVE VENUE???

  • Comment number 50.

    I've been to the new Wembley twice and both games I don't remember any injuries - England vs Estonia and England vs Croatia. It isn't an accident waiting to happen. As others have said, just let the pitch settle for a few months. I like the idea of a removable pitch, because as people have said the revenue from concerts and sports English people have no interest in is what's going to pay off Wembley.
    To be honest the location of Wembley isn't great, both times I've been there it's terrible to get out. The Underground is packed until you get to central London. It would have been better to make a pitch in the Midlands, where there is easy access to everywhere and more space.

  • Comment number 51.

    It'll be embarassing if Barcelona, Real Madrid, or an Italian or German team make it to the final of the Champions League next year and the pitch is in that sort of condition. Especially if you compare it to how perfect the Bernabeu pitch was

  • Comment number 52.

    Oh dear!! Accidents and injuries just waiting for us (and Mexico for that matter) at Wembley this evening. I am a well ancient supporter of football and love to see England play well. Wouldn't it be nice to think that the FA felt the same way. They really do have to rethink how the interest payments are met if the stadium is to be used for events other than soccer. Roger Maslin MUST surely get the IOG back or at the very least talk to Paul Burgess. The writing is on the wall for all to see..... Champions League Final? 2018 WC? I don't think so. Teams valued at hundreds of millions of £ running around on a pitch trying to injure them? Come on Mr Maslin, wakey wakey

  • Comment number 53.

    This one is a no brainer people. The high stands cause no sunlight to get to the pitch, it’s over watered, ripped up ever 5 mins for a race track to be placed on it and then covered for concerts with 30-40 thousands people standing on it.

    No sun + too much water + turf ripped up + covered and stood on = BAD PITCH.

    The only way to have a good pitch is to ban other events and invest in some false lightning system that increases grass growth.

  • Comment number 54.

    Re: 27. Jay

    Alan Ferguson's actually turned the Wembley groundsman job down in the past to stay at Portman Road. Certainly knows his stuff though, will be a sad day when he does leave Ipswich for whatever reason.

    There's a video piece on him looking after the Town pitch on the BBC site:

  • Comment number 55.

    Im 16 and until last season I played sunday league, and i can quite honestly say I've played in much much better surfaces!

    It's just dumb how we threaten our chances of world cup glory over a pitch that my school groundsman would find shocking!

  • Comment number 56.

    I have found soaking the soil with a mixture of vomit and goose fat can do the trick. You have to fatten the goose by feeding it ready salted crisps and banana flavoured protein shakes.

  • Comment number 57.

    Albeit TomFl's powerposting was irritating, he has a point...

    Why didn't we play against a top quality team, watch all their players get injured on the pitch, and leave ourselves with an outside shot of getting far in the World Cup?

  • Comment number 58.

    The wembley pitch isn't as good as some of the pitches in the premiership, but come on, it isn't that bad. Remember the pitches that were around in the 1970's and 80's there wasn't a blade of grass on them by January. And remember the 1970 Cup final pitch which was largely sand as a horse of the year showjumping event had taken place on it a week earlier.

  • Comment number 59.

    The answer's simple; if Wembley has to remain multi-purpose until 2023, move the football somewhere else.

  • Comment number 60.

    When you think of the epic proportions of money flowing through the english game it is not only an abomination that Wembley has to be brassed of to kids go-kart racing birthday parties, but that fans are paying rip off prices for tickets and ancillaries to watch their national side. Watching england play should preserve some key elements of the essence of the game which has made it a global success; affordability, simplicity, purity, egality..... fraternite etc etc.
    Spare us the bottom-line rationality for once anyway!!!

  • Comment number 61.

    Dan - Never mind the 'Triesman chronicles', the reason England is unlikely to land the 2018 WC is because our FA spent £420m on a national stadium and failed to get the most important part right. Let's be honest would you entrust your premier Competition to anyone with such a track record?

  • Comment number 62.

    I have an awful feeling that the players with some injury concerns like King and Rooney will hurt themselves on the pitch tonight, and that in time (seeing as we'll have to suffer this embarrasing pitch till 2023) the FA will give up and get a plastic pitch. England never make anything easy for themselves.

  • Comment number 63.

    Man up. Football used to be and is still actually played on worse!
    How many serious injuries occur when a few mates have a kick about in a park of the like? Footballers have turned into women. If they want to play on perfect grass, play golf or bowls!

  • Comment number 64.

    We are going to be the laughing stock of Europe if the champions league final goes ahead at wembley next year. I wouldn;t be surprised if uefa move it to another country/stadium. Which would be equally embarrasing. it's a scandal - full of divets with the ball slowly bobbling all over the place. as for the world cup - forget it - can you imagine fifa allowing the showpiece game in world football on that "ploughed field" as fergie so rightly put it? no way. beautiful stadium, shame about the pitch.

  • Comment number 65.

    Maybe the pitch isn't so bad after all?

    One thing's for sure - the Mexicans didn't seem to have any trouble passing triangles around England this eve... The pitch did appear to cut up in the second half but it didn't look nearly as bad as everyone's been making out.

    Even Ledley lasted 90 minutes.

    I know one or two high profile players have added fuel to the fire by calling it "a joke" but lets put this into perspective. JT has always been a massive cry baby. Him and Frank are always mouthing off whinging to the press. And when does Sir Alex ever give an unbiased assessment? He's always making exaggerated statements as a tactical means of making excuses..

    We're all bored of talking about the pitch already so lets talk football - if we carry on playing like we did tonight we're gong to come seriously unstuck against stronger opposition such as Spain. On evidence of that performance the England midfield will be preying for a "ploughed field" if they happen to face Andreas Iniesta & Co. Our ball retention was so below par it was laughable. Carrick seemed like he was always 10 yards off the pace. It was a miracle we somehow got two nil up. Namely because the little Mexicans were... well, too little. We just skanked them at the set-piece - Sam Allardyce style!

    Optimists will point out that England were under strength and still got the result but it did make me realise how important Barry really is. And Frank too. Hopefully it will be a different kettle of fish if we can get all of our strongest players reinstated to the starting 11.

    C'mon England!

  • Comment number 66.

    I cannot believe so much money and time was spent on planning and preparation, frankly it's embarrassing - Green Day are rubbish.

  • Comment number 67.

    In all of the cases that I am aware of - where a pitch is shared - it is first and foremost a football pitch! Therefore it seems that the surface should be prepared as a football pitch and adapted for other sports! So talk to any of the Premier League Groundsmen and discover which is the best combination for the perfect playing surface for football. Why is this so difficult? Because people hate to be seen to be wrong. Come on Wembley bite the bullet, go cap in hand and accept advice from those who know best!

  • Comment number 68.

    2 things

    You cannot blame the pitch for Owen's injury
    England never lost England, lets be honest he was never going to the WC

  • Comment number 69.

    I know hindsight is 20-20 and all that, but the Veltins Arena in Gelsenkirchen and the University of Phoenix Stadium in Arizona - both of which have slide-out pitches residing on the south side of the stadium - cost about the same put together as Wembley. The former hosted a Champions League final and World Cup matches while the latter hosted a Super Bowl and is included in the US bid for 2018 or 2022, so nobody's really in any doubt about the regard they're held in as facilities. Oh, and both have retractable roofs into the bargain.

    If they knew the new Wembley was going to be a multipurpose facility - and let's face it, the fact that the old Wembley was should have sort of been a clue - why the hell didn't they build it accordingly?

  • Comment number 70.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?


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