Sheffield Wednesday: Gray blasts pitch

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Stuart Gray, the Sheffield Wednesday boss, accepts the poor state of the Hillsborough pitch reflects badly on the Championship club.

Due to the adverse weather conditions in South Yorkshire, the Owls have been forced to train at the ground this week.

While Gray is critical of the Hillsborough playing surface, he refuses to use it as an excuse for the team’s below-par home record and has challenged his squad to start picking up maximum points in their own backyard, starting against Cardiff City tomorrow.

He said: “The pitch is such a leveller. We trained on it the other day and it’s probably one of the worst pitches that I’ve ever had to train on and the players have had to play on.

“The last thing we want to be known up and down the country for is not having one of the best pitches. I think Blackpool’s is probably on par with ours at the moment.

“It’s there and we have got to get on with it. We have to find a way of beating teams on it. It is frustrating that the opposition only have to play on it once and we have to play on it 23 or 24 times a season.”

Gray has ruled out the possibility of the surface being relaid in the near future, conceding the club will have to wait until the summer for it to be addressed.

He said: “The pitch is a priority. It needs sorting out and hopefully that will get done in the summer.

“I had a good chat with the ground staff about new turf. They said it just wouldn’t bed in. It would probably make it even worse and be dangerous under foot.

“It is just a case of putting all the divots back in and rolling it. But once you get 22 people running on it, it’s going to cut up.”

The pitch has deteriorated ever since the 2007 floods in Sheffield, according to Gray.

“It might be a bit deep rooted,” he said. “It goes back to when it was flooded and I don’t know whether that’s had an affect.

“I know the ground staff are working their socks off to try and fix it. I think it’s one of those jobs where you’ve got to dig up and returf it next season.”

He feels the players are tensing up in possession.

“When the ball gets into the attacking areas, it is taking bobbles when the lads are crossing,” he said. “I can understand the fans’ frustration when they see Chris Maguire, Jacques Maghoma, Liam Palmer or Joe Mattock slicing a cross that goes out of the play but that is due to the pitch.

“I just want to take the excuse away from them and get a result. It’s our patch. We have to find a way of playingon that surface. The pitch is the same for both sides.

“We have got to make sure whoever comes here that we put pressure on their back four because we know that we can force errors due to the pitch.

“We want to get the home form sorted out. Our performances have been reasonably good at times but we have not had consistency at home.”