Leeds captain Cooper talks up rivalry ahead of Manchester United clash in Perth

Leeds United skipper Liam Cooper has stoked the fire ahead of his side’s preseason friendly against Manchester United in Australia on Wednesday.

The clubs will go head-to-head in front of more than 50,000 spectators at Perth’s Optus Stadium, the first of two games for Marcelo Bielsa’s side Down Under.

The last time that Leeds played Manchester United in the league was way back in 2004, though they did meet in the FA Cup in 2010 when a goal from Jermaine Beckford gave The Whites a shock win at Old Trafford.

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“Being a boy growing up in England you always knew of the Man United and Leeds United hate…call it a hatred back home,” Cooper told reporters today.

“The fans didn’t get along and the games were always good games, I think we’ve been brought up around that.”

Around 21,000 fans from 30 different countries have travelled to Perth to watch both Wednesday’s contest and last Saturday’s game between Manchester United and local A-League side Perth Glory.

The Red Devils ran out 2-0 winners in that one thanks to goals from Marcus Rashford and James Garner but should face a much tougher test in their second hit out.

“We take chances, we attack with a lot of men, and we defend as a team,” said Cooper with reference to how Leeds will approach the game.

“That’s the way the manager wants us to play and that’s the way we’re used to playing.”

While preseason friendlies include plenty of player rotation and various tactics, Cooper believes that it will be an entertaining affair for those in attendance.

“With it being a preseason friendly the teams might differ from their side to our side, so I think that takes a little bit away from it,” he said.

“It’s Leeds United against Manchester United, it’s one of the biggest games out there so I’m sure it will be a great spectacle for the fans and the boys will enjoy playing in it.”

Bielsa has taken half of his squad to Australia, with the other half remaining in Yorkshire to work on their fitness.

The travelling party includes Pablo Hernandez, Patrick Bamford, Kiko Casilla, Jack Harrison, Kemar Roofe and Kalvin Phillips, though new signing Helder Costa is among those to have stayed in England.

“The fitness side of the game is very important for us, we all know the manager here wants us to work and there’s ideas from last year which we took into preseason,” said Cooper.

“It’s really important, that side of it, and we want to go into the season with a winning mentality.”

Leeds missed out on promotion via the Playoffs last season, and that disappointment is driving the playing group ahead of another campaign in the second tier.

Following the game in Perth, Leeds head to New South Wales to face the Western Sydney Wanderers at Bankwest Stadium.

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Neil Sherwin

Co-editor of BackPageFootball.com. Writes mostly on Premier League and A-League with contributions to other sites including TheFootballSack, InBedWithMaradona and Bloomberg's BSports. Has featured on The Guardian's Football Weekly.

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