Milner: Wembley pitch 'not good enough'

BY foxsports • March 1, 2010

James Milner has criticised the state of the Wembley pitch and claims it is not good enough "for the home of the England team."

Aston Villa midfielder Milner was unhappy with the surface during Sunday's Carling Cup final against Manchester United, although he accepts the heavy rain may have been a factor on that occasion.

But Milner feels it has been far from perfect ever since the new national stadium was opened three years ago and in a worst state than some of the lower league pitches Villa have encountered in cup competitions this season.

And he thinks the example to try and emulate is that of Arsenal's pitch in another new stadium at the Emirates.

Milner said: "The Wembley pitch was very difficult to play on. It was slippy, cutting up, and hopefully it can improve because it wasn't good.

"You work as hard as you can to get into a Wembley cup final and it is probably one of the worst pitches you have played on all season.

"It was worse than the couple of lower league team's pitches we have played on, to be honest.

"Growing up and watching games at the old Wembley, everyone says it was like a carpet. In a cup final, you want to be playing in a great stadium, which it is, on a great pitch.

"I've played there before so I knew what to expect.

"But the other thing is, it is the home of England and, for us as a team, you want the best surface possible and, at the moment, it is not quite there."

Milner, currently preparing for Wednesday's friendly international with Egypt at Wembley, added: "There has been a lot of rain so maybe it was poorer on Sunday than it has been.

"But, when I've played there before, I've never thought, 'this is a great surface'."

United striker Michael Owen intimated the pitch may have been a contributory factor to the hamstring injury he sustained against Villa after scoring the equaliser in a 2-1 win.

Milner said: "Michael is an experienced player who knows what has affected his body.

"I can't comment on that but, from speaking to a few of the lads who played in the game, we all feel pretty sapped from the pitch, but you have got to take the rain into account.

"I'm not a groundsman but, if you compare it to somewhere like Arsenal, that is one of the best surfaces you will play upon.

"If they could get it anywhere near the same as that, we'd be well happy."

Milner insists England have not been affected by the off-the-field dramas and headlines several key players have been embroiled in since their last outing against Brazil in Doha four months ago.

He said: "Are there reasons to be worried? I don't think so.

"The atmosphere is fine. We are here to play football. Nothing has changed there. We are here as footballers, everything has been fine, and we've got a job to do.

"We concentrate on what we can do on the field, be professional and get on with the job in hand, and that's what we will do.

"We have a very strong squad. You are going to get injuries. Hopefully the injured players can get fit again - but there is a lot of quality."

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