It was only in town for ten days but the touring circus of English football in Perth was manic from the start, blockbuster throughout and enthralling to the end.

The Australian city was offered a brief glimpse into the rock-star lives led by some of the biggest names in the game. It became clear from the moment the Manchester United players and staff were greeted at Crown Towers by a vibrant sea of supporters draped in red that this tour would not go down quietly.

And so the atmosphere built in anticipation for United’s two games against Perth Glory and Leeds United at Optus Stadium: Perth’s sparkling, state of the art stadium adorned in red lights for the entirety of the United tour.

But along with the thousands of fans who both love and adore the Red Devils comes the equally large set of football fans who despise them, none more so than the fans of Liverpool.

With more than 10,000 United fans packed into the WACA to watch their side train on Thursday night, a plane flew over the ground with a banner in tow, which read “Liverpool FC–6 X European Champions!”

Photo: Ngau Kai Yan

An age old rivalry born between two teams and their supporters in the streets of Manchester and Liverpool has spread with such passion around the globe to rear its beautifully ugly head in Perth, Australia.

Such is the level of Manchester United’s worldwide notoriety.

Come Saturday night and more than 50,000 fans filled Optus Stadium for United’s comfortable 2-0 victory over Perth Glory. After the game, the press pack awaited the appearance of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to relay his post-match thoughts.

Accompanying the English side in Perth was a flock of English media: football pundits used to gracing Old Trafford, the Etihad, Anfield and Stamford Bridge now gathered in the basement of Optus Stadium in Perth.

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“He’s coming, he’s coming!”

Shouts and screams emerged from the doorway as a group of children dressed in United attire streamed into the room, followed by Solskjaer himself who was flanked by an army of United media personnel.

His press conference came and went with Solskjaer performing with poise and charm as he copped a barrage of questions regarding transfer speculation over his biggest stars.

Photo: Ngau Kai Yan

Then it was Perth Glory boss Tony Popovic’s turn to take the stand.

The imposing and captivating character of Popovic was there as it always is after any A-League game, but for once it felt as though he didn’t have the whole room in the palm of his hand.

As he spoke, the English press pack tapped away at their stories on Romelu Lukaku and Paul Pogba, the seats slowly emptied as people made their way for the door to catch the United stars heading through the media zone. As each player made their way out to the team bus, Popovic’s voice would be drowned out by the raucous screams of fans hanging off the railings above.

Photo: Ngau Kai Yan

Pogba was one of the last United stars out the door on that night and with the cameras focused in as the Frenchman ambled past in his trademark gait, one journalist asked him to “please” stop and chat.

He turned to the man with a cheeky smile.

“No need,” he said, and walked away.

There was an aura to the $500,000-a-week man you just don’t get when in the presence of anyone else.

Come Wednesday night United were in action again, but this time against a Leeds United crowd who were more than ready to turn this one into a contest.

Banners draped the railings, chants filled the air and boos flew from either end of the ground as a proper English football tie unfolded, this time in front of over 55,000 fans at Optus Stadium.

It was like nothing the people of Perth had seen before on their own soil. The game finished 4-0 in Manchester’s favour but the Leeds fans stayed all night, singing loud and proud to the final whistle.

Today, the stadium is empty. Leeds will travel interstate to take on the Western Sydney Wanderers and United will head to Singapore for the final stop of their pre-season tour.

The touring circus was an electric affair which demanded the attention of the most isolated capital city in the world city but as quickly as it came it has packed up and left. All that is left is memories of the closest thing Perth will ever get to an authentic experience of top flight English football.

That is, of course, until we do it all again next year.

Photo : Ngau Kai Yan

Featured image credit: Ngau Kai Yan

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Football nut, student journalist and firm believer that Berisha dived in the 2012 A-League Grand Final. Covering Perth Glory for the 2018/19 season.