Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says fan disorder will not “be an issue” at Wednesday’s pre-season match against rivals Leeds in Perth.
A huge number of fans from both clubs are in the city for the game, which is expected to draw a near 60,000-capacity crowd – though no trouble has occurred. Solskjaer was asked if the clubs’ fierce rivalry could lead to problems. “If you make the effort to come here and support your team, football is the reason you are here,” he said.
Fixtures between the two sides in England have traditionally required a heavy police presence. There have been a couple of stand-offs between small groups of supporters in different locations in the Australian city, but no actual clashes.
The two clubs have not met for eight years – they last faced each other in a League Cup match in 2011. That game was marred by trouble, with two police officers injured and dozens of arrests made.
Solskjaer said left-back Luke Shaw has recovered from a slight hamstring injury that led to him being substituted in Saturday’s opening pre-season game against Perth Glory, and added that he was unlikely to risk the defender against Marcelo Bielsa’s Championship promotion hopefuls.
The Norwegian boss also spoke about his selection issues in central defence. United are keen to sign Harry Maguire from Leicester, although the two clubs are still apart in their valuation of the 26-year-old England international.
They already have five senior centre-backs – Victor Lindelof, Eric Bailly, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo – at the club on contracts that could run to at least 2022. In addition, Axel Tuanzebe has impressed in pre-season after playing a key role in Aston Villa’s return to the Premier League while on loan last term.
“Axel has a great chance of staying here and playing,” said Solskjaer. “He has proved he can play at that level and has come back strong and focused.
“Of course there is a limit of players. Whoever performs will be part of the team and whoever doesn’t has to fight to get back in – but he’s one of the exciting players I can’t wait to see more of.”
Solskjaer also confirmed three more senior players – goalkeeper Dean Henderson, defender Matteo Darmian and midfielder Fred – will join the squad when they fly to Singapore on Thursday before a match against Inter Milan 48 hours later.