United’s Brown ‘the best defender’
ENGLAND international, Wes Brown, is the best defender in the country and is still improving, Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson said yesterday.
The 30-year-old’s flourishing partnership with Nemanja Vidic at the heart of United’s defence has been a silver lining among a list of injuries to Rio Ferdinand, John O’Shea and Jonny Evans this season.
“Vidic and Brown have been fantastic in recent games. It just reminds me that when Wes Brown is fit he’s the best natural defender in the country,” Ferguson told reporters ahead of today’s Premier League trip to struggling Portsmouth.
“I think most people recognise how good Wes is as a natural defender. You have got to pay tribute to the lad.”
Signed as a trainee in July 1996, Brown’s United career has suffered countless injury interruptions since making his debut against Leeds United in 1998.
“He’s kept coming back from the injuries he’s had in his career. He’s had two cruciates and a broken ankle and other injuries,” the Scot said.
“Last season he had a very stagnant season in terms of interruptions to his consistency, but the previous season he was our most consistent defender. Now he’s fit again and looking fantastic, he gets better all the time.”
Brown, who also plays at right back, has been capped 22 times by England and is likely to be part of Fabio Capello’s World Cup squad for the finals in South Africa next year.
“I keep thinking he’s only 22 or 23, he’s got such a young approach to life. He’s done well dealing with all the things he’s had to deal with and still comes out fighting,” Ferguson said.
Meanwhile, Ferguson says defender Ferdinand is not set for an imminent return from a back injury despite “making progress.”
Ferdinand has not played since a 2-0 loss at Liverpool on November 25 when he was easily beaten to the ball by Fernando Torres, allowing the Spain striker to score.
Ferguson said that “it's difficult with back injuries. Nature sometimes helps you, but we are looking forward to him coming back.”
In other news from the United camp, Ferguson has identified Denmark inter na- tional, Simon Kjaer, as the replacement for unsettled defender Vidic.
Kjaer has come to United's attention after a series of inspirational perfor mances for Palermo. The 20-year-old has an R132-million buy-out clause in his contract with the Italian club.
The Premier League champions know his value could soar if he plays well in next summer's World Cup and want a deal before then.
Vidic has just 18 months left on his contract and is certain to be sold before Ferguson risks losing him for nothing.
The Serb is believed to favour a move to Spain, having received favourable reviews about La Liga from international team-mates.
Kjaer is also a target for Liverpool after a recommendation from his compatriot, Daniel Agger. Juventus are believed to also be weighing up a bid.
Second-placed United travel to Fratton Park today looking to win after Wednesday’s 1-0 Champions League defeat at home to Besiktas.
Victory for Ferguson’s men would cut Chelsea’s lead to two points for a day at least, with Carlo Ancelotti’s men playing at London rivals Arsenal tomorrow. – Sapa-Reuter-AP and Daily Mail
SIMPLY THE BEST: Defender Wes Brown ... says Alex Ferguson.