Friday 18 January 2019

Roy refuses to 'pitch' in with Fergie

Gerry McDermott

ROY KEANE has refused to blame the poor state of the Old Trafford pitch for Manchester United's FA Cup defeat by West Ham.

Sir Alex Ferguson claimed the pitch contributed to United's shock exit on Sunday and he wants the surface to be relaid.

Ferguson is adamant the surface has not recovered since two rugby league finals were played at Old Trafford and he questioned the club's wisdom in staging these games.

"Ever since the rugby went on it, it has been an absolute nightmare," he said. "We will certainly need to be thinking about re-turfing it."

Keane, though, is worried United may look like sore losers if they do not accept defeat graciously. The United skipper agreed that the surface is not good, but he pointed out that it was the same for West Ham and they seemed to cope.

"The players have got to be careful if they criticise the pitch because people will look at it as an excuse," he said.

Denis Irwin agreed with Keane and he felt United only had themselves to blame.

"You have to think about your first touch on the pitch now and it's very, very bobbly," he said. "It's very dry and I think if you look at the game there were a couple times when the bobbles did not go our way. But it's the same for them."

Meanwhile, John O'Shea made an impressive debut for Belgian first division side Royal Antwerp on Saturday.

The Manchester United player has followed the likes of Luke Chadwick, Ronnie Wallwork and Danny Higginbotham to the Old Trafford side's Belgian feeder club to gain much-needed first team experience.

The 19-year-old Waterford teenager played in the heart of the Antwerp defence in the 1-1 draw at home to Charleroi and admitted he enjoyed the experience.

"I was happy with the way I played but I was disappointed that we didn't win as we were leading against ten men when we gave away a sloppy goal," said O'Shea. "I was surprised that it was very fast because I thought I might get a lot more time on the ball and it was also quite physical.

"I also had to be very careful in the tackle as there is a lot of diving in and around the box but it's all part of the education."

A year ago, O'Shea played ten games for English Division Two side Bournemouth and he is looking to his spell at Antwerp to take him on another few steps.

"I knew at the start of the season that my chances of first team football at United would be limited to the Worthington Cup and I was happy with that," said O'Shea. "Other United players who have come here have benefited from the experience and I hope it will also help me."

O'Shea is fortunate that another United player, Jimmy Davis, is also on loan with Antwerp and he has talked regularly to Chadwick since moving to Belgium.

Antwerp, currently 13th of the 18 clubs in the Belgian first division, are away to Harelbeke next weekend before Friday week's glamour game against Anderlecht.

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