Muscat slams pitch: Players fear for their safety

We all know it’s not a good idea to get Kevin Muscat angry! But the FFA have done just that and now have a fired-up Melbourne Victory coach on their hands as he declared player welfare was being threatened by playing games on the cricket pitch at North Sydney Oval.

Such is Muscat’s concern heading into Friday’s clash with Central Coast at North Sydney, he said he won’t consider selecting players with niggly injury problems, the coach ruling out defender Matthieu Delpierre as he’s worried the surface will hinder his recovery from a foot problem.

Victory players have been concerned about the game for weeks, especially after playing a clash against Adelaide on a poor surface at Adelaide Oval earlier in the year.

But the coach wasn’t in any mood to take prisoners as he lashed the FFA for their decision to play at the venue, saying players were being endangered and supporters short-changed by the move.

“I don’t think that the welfare of the players is being taken into consideration for this match here,” Muscat told Melbourne radio station SEN.

“Players that have had soreness or recent injuries, bad injuries in recent years, I’d consider leaving them at home and not playing them.

“Because the players are very, very concerned about their welfare playing on this and it’s nothing to do with them not wanting to play, but it’s just simple they fear for their safety.

“I’ve got a view and a very, very strong view to be honest, because that’s exactly what it is, a cricket pitch.

“We can have all the experts and turf people tell us what they want but the reality is the pitch has to suit the players.

“On this occasion, I think they’ve got to support the players because I know they’re telling me in light of playing at Adelaide Oval and then Newcastle, 24 hours after that (pitch) was laid, so listening to them, they don’t feel they can run at normal speeds without turning, without fearing injury.

“So it is a little bit of a worry, well more than a worry as far as I’m concerned, and obviously we’ve done everything we can with the FFA and we haven’t got very far.”

The coach said the club now had to just grin and bear it.

“In terms of spectacle, what are you going to expect to see if you come out there as a punter?” Muscat asked. “That’s because players can’t do what they normally do on a football pitch.

“On a cricket pitch, you’ve been there, we’ve all seen it, you can let the grass grow but there’s a reason a cricket ball can be thrown into the ground and it can bounce six foot ... there’s a reason for that because the turf and the soil and everything underneath it is rock hard.

“There’s a reason also that they play with spikes because nothing else can get through the hard surface.”