Sir Alex must have been behind plenty of transfers in his time in football. It adds up: a new centre-back every three years or so, countless midfielders, even more goalkeepers and a few strikers, but one position he has not touched in a while has been the right-back position.
Gary Neville has been a rock for United in that position for longer than I have been following football and when he is not there, then there was always a reliable back-up from the youth system who could step right in and do a half-decent job. He was usually replaced by his brother, Phil, but after he was gone, Wes Brown made the position of second-choice right-back his own.
Actually Brown is not really good as a right-back and could not challenge Vidic — who imposed himself as one of the most commanding centre-backs in the world — for the central defender position in two life times. He is therefore stuck as a second-choice player for Manchester United and it does not look likely that anything will change for him in the near future unless he leaves the club.
Thus, it can be safe to assume that Brown will be better off if he leaves the club. However Manchester United know that Brown is not unwilling to stay at the club — provided he is offered more money — and the decision they must now make is whether or not they should offer Brown the financial terms he demands to stay at the club.
Actually Brown finds himself in a good position. His contract expires this summer and he can move elsewhere for more football if he cannot force Manchester United to show him the money. So Sir Alex might be asking himself if Brown is worth the extra 30k per week he wants.
Brown has been performing at right-back all season and he has probably earned the rating “not a failure” for his efforts — which is hardly flattering. Given our relative impotence in this position and the fact that Neville has not kicked a ball for a year (and he is getting very old), we can safely assume Ferguson will go shop for a right-back this summer.
That will push Brown as third in the pecking order on the right side of the defence, though he will probably continue to be second choice behind Vidic and Rio. We all know that Brown is Man Utd quality at the heart of the defence, but Pique too is promising and O’Shea showed us that he can do the job on Tuesday. Then there is also that French lad, Silvestre. He is quite capable of being a back-up too.
So Brown is not exactly needed by the team when you think about it. He is a luxury. He is better than all other defenders in the team except Evra, Rio and Vidic. The impending arrival of Neville’s successor practically means that we will have the best second-choice defender in the league by a mile.
Is that kind of luxury necessary at the cost of another world-class player, because, if we do keep Brown, there will be less wages available this summer — and maybe less transfer funds?
So do you think we should keep Brown? Now I give you the keyboards.
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