Perth Glory welcome Manchester United to town on Saturday night in Australia at the Optus Stadium in an international friendly with both sides preparing for the season ahead.
Optus Stadium, Perth, Australia
Key Stat: Manchester United have won just once in their last seven matches and only twice in their last 12 in all competitions.
Expert Verdict: This may 'just' be a friendly, but this is not the time for Manchester United to be playing around. Their manager will know all too well how important a quick start will be, else he could lose the dressing room and/or the board. This is even more vital since they face a team so far away from their season. Plus, United have only one loss in a friendly since 2013, so there's that, too. Because of that, it's hard to see United not winning, but then again it is a friendly and it’s hard to judge.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has carried quite an illustrious squad with him to Australia, including rumored want-away Paul Pogba and oft-linked with Inter Milan man Romelu Lukaku. New signings Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James are also part of the party, so they could get their first Red Devils action here. Alexis Sanchez, Matteo Darmian, and Fred have not traveled for this tour.
Daniel James will be looking to get off to a flier, and that’s exactly what you can expect: for him to hit the ground running. The Welshman will prove to be one of the quicker players in the league in short time, and he’ll look to make a statement right out of the blocks. Scott McTominay also has some work to do as well. After featuring so heavily under former boss Jose Mourinho, he’s been a little marginalized under Solskjaer. He can make that right beginning here from the off in preseason.
United have three losses and two draws in their last five matches:
0-2 home loss vs Cardiff
1-1 draw at Huddersfield
1-1 home draw vs Chelsea
0-2 home loss vs Manchester City
4-0 loss at Everton
Defenders:Wan-Bissaka, Bailly, Jones, Young
Midfielders:Chong, McTominay, Andrea
Forwards:James, Martial, Rashford
Tony Popovic remains with most of his side from the runner-up squad still intact for the moment ahead of this fixture with the lords of Old Trafford. There have been some comings and goings, with Jacob Italiano leaving for Borussia Monchengladbach and former Melbourne City man Bruno Fornaroli being brought in.
One of the top scorers in last season’s A-League was Andy Keogh, and that makes him one to watch here. The Irishman, a veteran of the lower leagues in England, bagged 15 goals to finish third in the Golden Boot race. In goal, Liam Reddy was the standout performer in the division, keeping 12 clean sheets, four more than the next closest goalkeepers. He will have a big task, even against a relatively weakened United side here as he tries to keep them out and earn his side a result.
Perth have two draws, two wins, and a loss in their last five matches:
0-0 home draw, penalty loss vs Sydney
3-3 home draw, penalty win vs Adelaide United
5-0 home win vs Wellington Phoenix
1-0 loss at Sydney
1-0 home win vs Newcastle Jets
Defenders:Dulbic, Spiranovic, Lowry
Midfielders:Franjic, Kilkenny, Juande, Ingham
Forwards:Keogh, Ikonomidis, Diego Castro
This match marks the first time Perth have faced Manchester United before, though it is not the first time United have played Down Under. They faced off with the A-League All-Stars in 2013 and trounced them 5-1. Prior to that, the trebling winning team went to played the Australian national side and won 2-0 in 1999.
Manchester United come into this friendly as they begin their preparations for the 2019/20 Premier League season. The Red Devils have five more friendlies after this one before opening up with a difficult fixture at home to Chelsea in under a month’s time. There is a whole lot left in the air at present, with a number of stars looking like they could be set on leaving the club. At any rate, it’s a big season to come under their Norwegian boss in his first full year in charge, and it will be interesting to see how he copes with the workload of the Europa League and Premier League campaigns.
Perth Glory are a long, long way off from the beginning of their own season, with the Australian A-League not slated to start back up until October. So in terms of fitness, it’s hard to imagine how this will do them any good whatsoever. You’d also have to question where their fitness will be having had nothing to do, much like United, for the last couple of months. In the last campaign, they won the regular season title by eight clear points over Sydney FC only to end up beaten by the very same opponents in the Grand Final back on May 12th. They won’t even play again until a month from now.
There will inevitably be two or three times the number of subs made than there will be shots on target, so it’s hard to give a clear prediction. That said, United have the much better squad, obviously, and should start preseason with a win Down Under.