Pep Guardiola has criticised the pitch at the Etihad Stadium, claiming it has been bad since he took charge of the club in the summer of 2016.
Having cited Anfield and Old Trafford as stadiums with good pitches to play on, Guardiola compared the one at the Etihad with that of Craven Cottage, where his team play on Saturday. The Etihad had maintenance done in April during the first lockdown but plans to have a first big overhaul in 11 years last summer were prevented by the pandemic. While there are hopes this plan can be revived in the close season, ground staff have recently been able to reseed the pitch due to City’s run of away games.
“They [ground staff] are working a lot, we are trying to find a solution but the grass is not good,” said Guardiola. “Since day one when I arrived here we can do better. The weather is tough but I am not the green-keeper. They [ground staff] give me and the club the reasons and we say: ‘OK, this is what it is.’
“We accept it because I cannot argue with them because I am not a green-keeper – I don’t talk about anything that I’m not an expert in. But the reality is the grass is not good. Everyone knows it. We try every season to find a solution knowing that the weather will change, the sun will not come, and we have to find a way that as much as possible, from October until March, the grass can be better, as good as possible because we need it to avoid injuries, for better football, for many reasons. I am pretty sure the club will do the best to try to find a solution as it always does.”
He added: “I know the weather condition here in England is tough, but there are stadiums where the grass is good. We were in London against Arsenal, we were in Anfield, even in Old Trafford and the grass was better than ours. We were in Budapest [Puskas Arena] for a Champions League game, and the grass was incredible, like a carpet, so it was amazing and our grass still isn’t good and we need it.”
Fulham host the league leaders having taken 12 points from their past seven games, the most recent of which came in victory at Anfield last Sunday. Scott Parker’s side remain in the relegation zone, but only on goal difference.
“I am impressed with Fulham here, the pace they have, their organisation: their stadium is difficult, the grass is not in good condition like ours, so they are a real tough opponent,” said Guardiola.