Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson says he withdrew his star players from yesterday's FA Cup semifinal defeat to Everton because of the state of the Wembley pitch. In a revelation which is sure to embarrass the Football Association, Ferguson insisted he pulled Paul Scholes, Dimitar Berbatov and Patrice Evra out of the starting line-up and fielded a team packed with youngsters and reserves because of the dreadful state of the Wembley pitch.
He said: "When I saw the pitch yesterday (in the Chelsea v Arsenal semi) what I didn't want was to go into extra time with my strongest squad.
"Yesterday it looked spongy and dead and difficult to move the ball quickly around it. They've got all these lights around the perimeter to help the growth and the standard of the soil. But it looks dead to me.
"So we had to go with the bold decision of playing the younger ones. After all our club is built on giving young players opportunities and they didn't disappoint.
"Once we made our mind up I was quite enthusiastic about it. It was the right thing to do. It was good for them."