Algae on Plymouth pitch played part in loss - boss Derek Adams

By Brent Pilnick & Gary SmeeBBC Sport
Cambridge United celebrate their late winner
Cambridge United celebrate their late winner on Plymouth Argyle's algae-affected pitch

Excuses from managers and players after a defeat have been part of football for generations.

From dodgy refereeing decisions to too many games in a week, every reason under the sun has been given for why their team lost.

But have you ever heard the one about too much algae on the pitch?

That was the excuse Plymouth boss Derek Adams gave after a late slip by defender Peter Hartley gifted Cambridge United a 2-1 victory at Home Park on Saturday.

"It has an algae on the pitch, it has to be treated and hopefully that will be sorted in the week," said Adams. "That is the reason (for Hartley's slip)."

The problem stems from the wet and unusually warm weather in Plymouth over the past couple of months, according to Argyle chief executive Martyn Starnes.

The club have had soil samples taken and are bringing in experts later this week.

Plymouth Cambridge
Players struggled to stay on their feet throughout Saturday's game at Home Park

"We've got to get some equipment on there to try to break the algae up and put some winter seed in to try to take over the growth of the grass," Starnes told BBC Sport.

"It really is astonishing how scientific these pitches are nowadays.

"It'll be ready for the next game - whether we'll see a tangible improvement by then is doubtful as it takes some time, but the pitch will be playable by the time Yeovil come on Boxing Day.

"Over the next few weeks we expect a demonstrable improvement in the pitch."

Algae is definitely a strange one, but what other bizarre excuses have been rolled out following below-par performances?

The infamous grey kit

Ryan Giggs
A rare snapshot - Ryan Giggs wearing Manchester's United's 1995-96 away kit

Sir Alex Ferguson was certainly up there with the greatest when it came to making excuses, but one of his best surely had to be in April 1996 when Manchester United were 3-0 down to Southampton at half-time.

Fergie complained his players could not see each other while sporting their grey away kit and made them change the strip at half-time. They still lost the game 3-1 - and were then thumped 6-3 at the Dell a few months later despite wearing different colours.

The grey kit was so unpopular the players wore it just twice.

The balls are too bouncy

In 1998, Newcastle United manager Kenny Dalglish saw his Premier League side struggle to a 1-1 draw against then Conference club Stevenage in the FA Cup fourth round.

Despite the Magpies boasting a wealth of international talent including Alan Shearer, Stuart Pearce and John Barnes, Dalglish did not think his players were simply having an off day.

Instead, he blamed it on the balls being too bouncy.

Newcastle went on to win the replay 2-1 at St James' Park thanks to two Shearer goals.

Kept awake by frogs

Frog croaking
BBC Sport understands this frog was not one of those keeping the Ukrainian team awake

After a 4-0 defeat by Spain at the 2006 World Cup, Ukraine defender Vladyslav Vashchuk said it was down to the players being tired.

Not because of their busy schedule - but because frogs croaking outside their hotel in the east German town of Potsdam had kept them awake all night.

"Because of the frogs' croaking we hardly got a wink of sleep," Vashchuk said at the time.

"We all agreed that we would take some sticks and go and hunt them."

The team must have had a better night's sleep before their next group game - they beat Saudi Arabia 4-0, before losing to eventual champions Italy in the quarter-finals.

Too many video games

David James
David James kept 169 clean sheets in the Premier League

Despite holding the joint record for Premier League clean sheets, things were not always rosy for Liverpool goalkeeper David James in the 1990s.

The former England stopper made three glaring errors in Liverpool's classic 4-3 victory over Newcastle in 1997 and blamed it on playing too many computer games.

"I was getting carried away playing Tekken II and Tomb Raider for hours on end," James said.