Mauricio Pochettino has issued Rochdale an apology after criticising the state of their pitch at Spotland Stadium ahead of Sunday’s FA Cup fifth-round tie.
GALLERY | 📸 The players enjoyed a training session on the new #CrownOilArena pitch on Thursday afternoon.
— Rochdale AFC (@officiallydale) February 15, 2018
The Dale have spent a huge £500k on relaying a new surface at their stadium following a huge amount of criticism over the state of the surface in the build-up to visit of Premier League opposition.
During their 1-0 replay win over Championship side Millwall, Rochdale received huge backlash as the pitch at Spotland Stadium was covered in sand in an attempt to make it playable.
Pochettino expressed his concerns over the safety of the pitch and this is likely to cause his side many issues when they travel there on Sunday.
Last week he said:
“We are going to struggle, not only us but them too.
I think the FA need to assess how the pitch is and then take a decision if it’s good for the FA Cup, the players and the teams to play on a type of pitch in that condition.”
However, earlier today in his press conference, the Argentine apologised for his comments.
“I congratulate them”
Pochettino has congratulated Rochdale over their efforts of ensuring the pitch at Spotland Stadium is ready for Spurs’ arrival on Sunday afternoon.
He has also taken back his comments criticising the pitch, claiming he made them out of fear of either set of players getting injured.
“My comment was about the care, first of all for the Rochdale players, our players, and the competition that all of England watches on TV.
After the replay against Newport, I was with my coaching staff and they showed me a picture from Rochdale’s pitch after their tie against Millwall and it was not in a great condition.
I was conscious about the FA Cup, the football, and the image that we are going to sell, but the care for the players, too.
Now, when I see the pictures and videos of the pitch on the Rochdale website, I need to congratulate them because the effort was massive to get it in the best condition to play without risk.
The conditions are fantastic, so I congratulate them. The effort has been massive and, again, I apologise if someone took my words in the wrong way.”
Rochdale vs Tottenham: FA Cup fifth-round preview
Rochdale are currently sat bottom of League One, quite a contrast to Spurs’ previous opposition Juventus, who had reached two out of the last three Champions League finals…
To set up this massive tie with Tottenham Hotspur, the Dale have overcome challenges from Bromley, Slough Town, Doncaster Rovers and Millwall.
Having gone to the Den in the previous round, punching above their weight to earn a replay, which they won, Rochdale have proven they are capable of producing an upset.
Tottenham concluded their nightmare run of fixtures in Turin on Tuesday, in a period in which they flourished, managing to defeat Manchester United and Arsenal, whilst earning draws away both Liverpool and Juventus.
The North Londoners’ knocked out AFC Wimbledon and Newport County at Wembley to reach the FA Cup fifth-round at Spotland this Sunday.