Wes Brown is hopeful that new Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag will help the misfiring club to rediscover their mojo.
Local boy Brown enjoyed a glittering 15-year career at Old Trafford under esteemed boss Sir Alex Ferguson, which included winning five Premier League titles, two Champions League crowns and two FA Cups.
But since Ferguson retired in 2013 the Red Devils have struggled badly to reward their loyal fans with the success they have been accustomed to.
“Sir Alex Ferguson was the greatest manager for me, he’s obviously a hard act to follow,” says Brown, now a BT Hope United ambassador. “I like Ten Hag, I like what he’s done with Ajax. I think he’ll bring a lot of hunger to the club.”
But the former defender insists that the Dutchman will need to be allowed to settle in to the club if he is to come close to emulating some of Ferguson's achievements.
“Everyone will have a different experience with Sir Alex, but I was a local lad who came through the ranks and he was absolutely brilliant with me. He brought in some very expensive players and managed to deal with those players and situations.
“But that was a different time, a different era. Sir Alex had been there many years and he was settled at the club. There was probably no better manager.
“For me, that’s one of the key elements to being successful. It’s important the manager is settled, he can bring in his own players and adopt his own brand of football.”
Brown has no doubts he and United fans were spoilt during Ferguson’s glorious reign, which saw the Scot win a staggering 38 titles in his 26 years in charge. Permanent replacements David Moyes, Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho, Ole Gunner Solskjaer and now interim boss Ralf Rangnick, have failed to follow in Fergie’s illustrious footsteps.
But former defender Brown, who made 362 appearances for the club, hopes Ten Hag can be the catalyst for long-overdue success nearly a decade on from Fergie’s exit. And he, like many disgruntled United supporters, is desperate for the club to become a footballing powerhouse once again.
“He’ll want to do well, I don’t think he’ll come to just become the next manager and see what happens,” says ex-England international Brown. “I think he wants to prove to everyone that he is ‘the man’.
“He’s got respect throughout the game and we know we what he’s done with Ajax, but Manchester United will be a much bigger challenge. I’m sure if he gets everything he needs, he could be the right person to turn things around.
“I like his style, he’s one of the new breed of managers. It will be very interesting to see what happens. We’ll all just have to see how it goes.”
Brown, who also played for Sunderland and Blackburn during his 26-year professional career, remains an avid United fan. But the 42-year-old admits it’s been painful watching this season at Old Trafford.
“We’ve not played well as a team,” stresses Brown. “When you look at the team sheet and the squad, we should definitely doing a lot better. United have not stamped any real authority on the league. Nothing has clicked. We had chances a few weeks ago to put our foot down for a Champions League spot, but we’ve just not taken it.
“For me it’s been a season of two halves. I’ve been to every home game and we can play really well for one half and then we can be a completely different team in the second half. But even before our defeat to Everton we still had a chance of getting into that Champions League place. But it’s just not happened.
“All season we’ve let in too many goals and we’ve not been consistent at all. We could say this about a few times with the exception of the top three, but United have not stamped any real authority on the league. They’ve not got a good run going and just not scored many goals, which is probably down to a number of reasons.
“A new manager has come in and people don’t really know what’s happening. And that’s probably the same for players who don’t know about their futures.
“There’s probably going to be a lot of changes in the summer.”
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