Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer held his first media conference in Perth today as he prepares his players for Saturday’s friendly clash with Perth Glory at Optus Stadium.
United will then face Leeds United at the same venue next Wednesday.
WA Premier Mark McGowan introduced the Norwegian and hailed the fact WA had beaten Victoria for the right to bring United Down Under.
“We regard it as a huge coup to have Manchester United coming here to Western Australia for this 10-day training period and to play two games, one against the Glory and the other against Leeds,” said the Premier, bedecked in a United scarf.
“This is an exciting event for us for a range of reasons. Firstly, we beat Victoria for the right to have Manchester United here. And I must say, I think Manchester United got the btter half of that deal as well.”
Mr McGowan, who later posed with a United top with ‘McGowan 19’ on the back, added: “Whilst the team’s here we are going to have over 21,000 visitors to Perth from elsewhere, so that includes 30 countries from around the world and visitors from other states a round Australia.
“We expect over 100,000 people to watch both games at Optus Stadium.
“The town is being painted red literally, we are painting all sorts of things from buses to vbuildings to bridges … to promote the visit.”
Mr McGowan declined to say how much United had been paid to come to WA.
“No government ever releases those figures because it puts you at a competitive disadvantage,” Mr McGowan told thewest.com.au.
“We beat Victoria for the rights. We’ve always got to beat Victoria and NSW and Queensland.
“You have to be careful you just don’t give anything away.”
Solskjaer said they were beginning to settle into Perth time after landing on Monday afternoon. “It’s been very good so far, I have to say,” he said.
“Now we’re just getting over the jet-lag. It’s time now for the boys to have a little bit of an afternoon off so they can see more.
”We’ll definitely have time to explore a little bit more but, at the moment, as I’ve just said, we’re getting over the jet-lag and training. Today’s session was a little big longer and very good.”
Solskjaer was largely asked about the situation regarding his star French midfielder Paul Pogba, whose agent Mino Raiola said recently that it could be a good time for World Cup winner Pogba to leave Old Trafford.
There were also claims that a video of United players walking around Burswood showed a spat between Pogba and United teammate Jesse Lingard.
“There’s an agenda against Paul,” Solskjaer said, referring to the media.
“He (Pogba) is a top, top bloke. There’s never been any problems. He’s got a heart of gold.”
“For example, Jesse and Paul walking around and it’s portrayed as a fight between the two boys.
“I know you’re here to sell papers and sell stories, but there’s no problems between the boys at all. The pre-season has been very good so far.”
United striker Marcus Rashford also spoke, admitting he knew little about Hyundai A-League premiers Perth Glory.
Asked if he expected United to win 5-0, he said a lot would come down to fitness.
WA Minister for Emergency Services Fran Logan accompanied the Premier to the WACA Ground today.