MELBOURNE: Manchester United will play Crystal Palace at Melbourne Cricket Ground in July, organisers said Thursday, as Premier League teams resume pre-season tours which stopped when Covid hit. Cristiano Ronaldo and his United team-mates are set to meet A-League club Melbourne Victory on July 15 and Palace four days later at the 100,000-capacity MCG, with bumper crowds expected. “It has been two years since the club has been able to travel on an international pre-season tour so we can’t wait to get going and reconnect with our fans in Australasia,” said United chief operating officer Collette Roche. “Our matches in Melbourne will be a wonderful opportunity for international fans to see their favourite players up-close in an exciting schedule of games.”
United are expected to confirm later Thursday that they will also play Liverpool at Bangkok’s 51,000-capacity Rajamangala National Stadium on July 12, in a clash dubbed the “Red War” by Thai media and fans. When Liverpool played Victory at the MCG in 2013, 95,000 fans streamed through the turnstiles and organisers are tipping similar crowds when United visit Melbourne for the first time since 1999. “It’s a great opportunity to showcase our club, Melbourne Victory, to the world and a chance for our members and fans to see a special organisation and a club with such a big history,” said Victory coach Tony Popovic. The tour will come after a miserable season for United, who will likely have a new manager in charge by then following the interim appointment of Ralf Rangnick. Reports say that United have held talks with Ajax coach Erik ten Hag, with Paris Saint-Germain boss Mauricio Pochettino and Spain’s Luis Enrique also reportedly in the frame.