With doubts over the quality of the pitch at the Hong Kong Stadium, should David Moyes consider cancelling United's next game?
David Moyes’ early matches as Manchester United manager haven’t exactly gone to plan.
After losing his opening pre-season fixture 1-0 to Singha All Star XI, things appeared to have turned a very sharp corner with the 5-1 demolition of the A-League All Stars. Although in truth it was less “All Stars” more “a few stars” with the likes of Alessandro Del Piero and Shinji Ono conspicuous by their absence.
But that was as good as it got, with Moyes’ most recent matches a 3-2 defeat to Yokohama and a last-gasp 2-2 draw with Cerezo Osaka.
And now it is on to Hong Kong, where United will play Kitchee FC on a pitch that has been branded a “killer” by Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio.
Before the end of that match – reduced to 40 minutes a half due to the conditions – Spurs had lost one of their players of last season possibly for the start of the next one.
An ankle ligament injury suffered just minutes after coming on as a substitute means Jan Vertonghen will miss the next two to three weeks, and is a doubt for the start of the new campaign.
And while injuries are commonplace, those caused by slips on saturated pitches are not.
Speaking of Tottenham’s next match against South China today manager Andre Villas-Boas said, “We’ve lost one player through injury, and if I can be sincere I would prefer not to go ahead, but that’s the reality.”
The Spurs boss spoke of duty, that it was the relevant authorities who would decide if the game was ultimately played. And yet Moyes will be paying attention to what transpires prior to his own side’s match on Monday.
“I do have concerns about the surface,” the United manager said yesterday. “It is mainly due to the weather.”
That is a fact that cannot be helped, unlike the possibility of inviting injuries so close to a new campaign.
“We will travel to Hong Kong and hope the conditions improve and the pitch is in a better state than it has been in recently,” Moyes concluded.
And if it isn’t? Well then it a case of weighing up a club’s duty to complete their pre-season commitments against the obligation to the very thing these matches are preparing them for.
At the end of their summer tour, a club should be in the best physical state for the matches ahead.
And while there will be uproar from eager fans if their idols’ appearances are prevented by a combination of inclement weather and common sense, that uproar will turn to elation if the club’s injury-free players are successful come the season’s end.
Do United have an obligation to play regardless of the conditions, or would you agree if they pulled out of their next game?
image: © Jason Gulledge