Yorke says All Stars will have to bring their A game
Red card … former United player Dwight Yorke. Photo: Brendan Esposito
AS MUCH as Dwight Yorke wanted to, he couldn't lie about how far out of their depth the A-League All Stars will be when they go head-to-head with football giants Manchester United on July 20.
The former Sydney FC premiership winner and a favourite in the red half of Manchester for his goalscoring exploits around the turn of the century, insisted he'll remain neutral when it comes to his allegiances for the match at ANZ Stadium next year.
But asked how the best of the A-League would fare against the Red Devils, who last played in Australia in 1999, Yorke was brutally honest in his assessment of how the match would pan out.
''A full-strength Man United … I've got to be honest, it's not going to be easy for the A-League guys,'' Yorke said. ''They are going to find it extremely difficult, but I'm sure it's a great experience for some of these guys who may not have the opportunity to play against these world-class players like Wayne Rooney and Van Persie. People like Giggsy and Scholesy are still there.''
The match is still more than seven months away but questions regarding the strength of the squad United bring to Sydney have already surfaced.
While it's not known how many of Alex Ferguson's first-team players will turn out at ANZ Stadium, United's director of communications Phil Townsend assured fans it wouldn't be a reserve XI.
''I think the main thing to say about the strength of the squad is that there's obviously not a major tournament here or in Europe or a World Cup so we'll bring the strongest squad we possibly can,'' he said. ''Obviously injuries play their part but we'll be bringing a very, very strong squad.''
While Ange Postecoglou and Graham Arnold would be the favourites to coach the inaugural side, Yorke didn't rule out a guest appearance as the team's coach if he was approached about the position.
''I'm sure it's something that if they asked me about it, I may consider,'' he said. ''I'm very heavily involved in football and I obviously still work within the game and I'm an ambassador for Manchester United as well. I do the media stuff for Sky Sports back home. I'm heavily involved in football so I won't rule anything out at this stage.''
Sydney will be United's only stop in Australia, but they are still looking at other options in the region.
Townsend insisted the quality of the team United would play against was a key factor in negotiations and is adamant the Red Devils made the right decision booking a date with the A-League All Stars.
''One of the things the manager has always been very clear about is the stronger the opposition, in terms of the physical and technically challenge they present, that is a very important part of a pre-season tour,'' he said. ''It helps prepare and it gets players up to the sharpness level. Somebody said last night, there's no friendlies between English teams and Australian teams.
''It will be a very tough work-out, physically and technically, and obviously the crowd will be good preparation for some of the guys.''
Yorke said the A-League players will gain a lot from the experience of taking on football's elite.
''When you see United when they turn up, the aura of the team, the way the present themselves, the way they carry themselves, the way everything is set up,'' he said.
''It's a real eye-opener for these guys when they see that. I think these [A-League] guys will experience something and hopefully they wont be too intimidated and go out and enjoy the occasion.''