Tottenham’s performance yesterday at Wembley against Newport County was a lot more comfortable than their performance had been against the Exiles in Wales. The pitch at Rodney Parade was poor, but it looks pristine compared to what awaits Spurs in the next round of the FA Cup.
Mauricio Pochettino’s men are set to travel to Rochdale in the 5th Round. On paper, Rochdale shouldn’t pose too much of a problem for the Lilywhites, but their pitch is absolutely atrocious and Poch is not happy about it. The Evening Standard has the details of the complaint that Spurs are preparing to make to the FA over the quality of said pitch.
The Tottenham boss is due to take his team to Spotland on February 18, with a place in the quarter-finals at stake, but he has requested a meeting with Spurs chairman Daniel Levy on Thursday after viewing pictures of the playing surface. The pitch, which has been described as the worst in the Football League, was covered in sand to make it playable for the fourth-round replay against Millwall this week, which Rochdale won 1-0.
“If the pitch is like I saw in the picture, I think you cannot play football,” said Pochettino. “It is about providing a safe place for players to play and if the picture is accurate, it would be a big risk.”
“Not just because we are Tottenham, because Rochdale cannot play football there either. It’s a massive risk for their players, too. Maybe the FA need to go in and take a very good decision for football.”
Pochettino did not make clear what he wanted the FA to do, but said: “The FA need to assess how the pitch is and then take a decision if it’s good for the competition, the players, the team to play on this type of pitch. In that condition, I don’t think it helps football. I don’t know why this has happened with the pitch but it’s true that from the pictures, it’s not a pitch in condition for football.”
Take one look at the pitch at Spotland and you will completely agree with Pochettino. Their pitch up in Greater Manchester resembles a 200-year-old sandbox that has never seen any sort of maintenance.
You’d think that the Rochdale players would be used to it by now and would have an extra boost to their home field advantage, but their league position doesn’t back that up. They are second from the bottom in League One and are looking likely for relegation.
Obviously not every club has the financial resources that Spurs have, but a line in the sand (get it?) has to be drawn somewhere. A pitch this poor should not be in play this late in the competition.
Spurs may be able to offer Rochdale a larger allocation at Wembley if the clubs can agree to switch the venue to Tottenham’s home. That financial incentive would hopefully be enough to convince The Dale to become the away team for the clash on February 18th.
Who knows if that will actually work. But if it doesn’t, be prepared for an incredibly ugly and unsafe game.