What Perth Glory think about facing United
Perth Glory players Shane Lowry and Neil Kilkenny are relishing the challenge of facing Manchester United on Saturday.
The first match of Tour 2019 pits us against the A-League runners-up, on our first visit to Western Australia since 1975 - and Lowry in particular can’t wait to come up against his boyhood club.
“It’s going to be a fantastic spectacle for our fans and for the whole city of Perth, so we’re really looking forward to it,” the centre-back, who came through the ranks at Aston Villa, told MUTV.
“We’ll be going out there trying to win the game, trying to do our best and trying to impose ourselves, as the United players will be as well.”
During his time at Villa Park, the Perth native was loaned to rivals Leeds United – who we’ll face next in Australia – before making a permanent switch to Millwall in 2012.
Lowry returned home three years ago, after spells with Leyton Orient and Birmingham City, but it’s clear where his footballing loyalties lie.
“I am still a massive United fan! As a kid, I had the wallpaper on the wall, all the bed, the quilts, everything!” the 30-year-old revealed.
“My family are Irish, so my uncle used to send the new home kit every year over to me and I used to wear it in the back garden.
“Obviously I’m a centre-half myself so I loved watching [Rio] Ferdinand and [Nemanja] Vidic. That was one of the best partnerships in the Premier League.”
Saturday's friendly takes place at the 60,000-capacity Optus Stadium, rather than Glory’s usual HBF Park home, and Lowry is expecting a full house for the visit of the Reds.
“United are one of the biggest clubs in the world, so they’re going to have a massive following," Shane added.
“In Perth, there’s actually a lot of British people living here, especially where I live in the north, so there’s a fantastic base here and I know a lot of people will be flying over from Sydney and Melbourne too to come over to the game. It’s fantastic for the whole of Australia.”
The defender has never faced the Reds before and revealed that he’ll be relying on an old friend to help secure a memento on Saturday.
“I was actually at Aston Villa with Ashley Young, so I might hit him up before the game if I can and try and get in the dressing room and get a couple of selfies. We’ll see!”
Lowry isn’t the only familiar face for English football fans in the Glory set-up.
Manager Tony Popovic spent five seasons at Crystal Palace as a player, while striker Andy Keogh came up against United on several occasions during his time at Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Neil Kilkenny is another former opponent, having helped Leeds knock us out of the FA Cup in 2010, and like his team-mate, the 33-year-old former Birmingham City and Preston North End midfielder has fond memories of watching the Reds growing up.
“I was a young lad at Arsenal as a player and the rivalry between the two top teams in the country under [Arsene] Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson, with [Patrick] Vieira and [Roy] Keane – the big top-of-the-table clashes – they were really good to watch first-hand at Highbury,” he said.
The Glory experienced heartbreak in this year’s A-League Grand Final, losing 4-1 on penalties to Sydney FC after a goalless draw in Perth, but Kilkenny still believes his side are the team to beat in Australia after topping the regular season table.
“It’s a bit of a weird set-up out here with the Grand Final being bigger than the league,” he added.
“I see winning the league as showing you’re the best team in the country and I think we are the best team in the country at the minute.”
Perth were unlucky to lose 1-0 to Chelsea last summer and will be hoping to pull off an upset when facing the Reds on Saturday (kick-off 12:00 BST).