Wes Brown knows all about making the grade at Manchester United and is encouraged by the current crop coming through under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Having joined the club’s academy at the age of 12, the Mancunian would go on to enjoy a trophy-laden professional career with the first team that spanned over 15 years.
Now the emergence of Axel Tuanzebe and Scott McTominay – who entered United’s youth system at ages eight and five respectively – has impressed Brown.
“The young lads that Ole thinks are capable of playing in the first team, he’ll have them training. There’s probably others that we don’t know about as well, like [Brandon] Williams for instance who’s played a game. And he’ll be watching them every day and he’ll know if they’re ready or not,” Brown said.
McTominay has established himself in midfield and put in another good display on Sunday when United were moments away from a remarkable win over Premier League leaders Liverpool only for Adam Lallana to score in the 85th minute to rescue a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford.
“Scott’s been brilliant. He might have come in maybe a little too early, but he’s now stood up to it and, as you can see how he’s been playing, he’s been fantastic,” added Brown, who made over 350 appearances for United.
Having played across the back-line, Brown can naturally relate to Tuanzebe’s situation, who has featured briefly in both full-back roles and at centre-back this term.
“Axel, I watched him in pre-season – fantastic. A little bit unlucky at the moment because of the two centre-halves we have, but you need that competition. The players will be all mates, but you need to be battling against each other to try and get in the team,” Brown added.
Given how short United are in midfield at the moment, especially with Paul Pogba injured, it’s curious that impressive reserve team star James Garner hasn’t got the nod yet. But Brown has total faith in Solskjaer’s judgement.
He went on: “He will 100 per cent get his chance to prove a point. Maybe the manager’s feeling this is not the right time for him. Everyone’s different. I started at a very young age, John O’Shea for instance started when he was 21 – he went out on loan and came back.
“Ole might just be feeling it’s not the right time for him yet, but that doesn’t mean he won’t get his chance.”
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Former Manchester United defender Wes Brown is confident that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is leading the club in the right direction.
The Red Devils ended Premier League leaders Liverpool’s perfect start to the season with their clash at Old Trafford on Sunday ending in a 1-1 draw.
United, though, were six minutes from a memorable victory over their bitter rivals but Adam Lallana’s late equaliser means this remains the club’s worst start in the league since 1986.
Having lined up alongside Solskjaer in his playing days, Brown is nevertheless certain that United are in safe hands. The Norwegian, he says, is finally steering the club back on course – even if it may take longer than anticipated.
“It’s absolutely brilliant that he knows the values and mentality of the club,” Brown, a winner of two Champions Leagues, two FA Cups and five Premier League titles with United, said.
“We’ve had four managers before Ole now and it’s not quite worked out. But Ole knows exactly what the club’s about, he knows what he wants. He’s said he’s got a plan in place. It will take a little bit of time, like we all know. We just can’t get six or seven players in one transfer window.”
United’s recruitment policy has come under plenty of scrutiny of late despite a reasonably successful summer transfer window. But Brown has noticed significant progress in that department and expects that to continue in January and beyond.
“The players that he’s [Solskjaer] brought in in the summer have been brilliant. [Harry] Maguire and [Aaron] Wan-Bissaka – Wan-Bissaka’s fitted straight in, like he’s been here for years,” added the 40-year-old, who made more than 350 appearances for United. “And [Daniel] James, who a lot of people thought might take a little bit longer, he’s the one who’s come out shining.
“They’re great signings and obviously more to come as well. And I’m sure if not January – I’m certain we’ll get some people then – but in the summer Ole will start to get the main players he wants.”
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said he was “disappointed” by his side’s 1-1 draw against Liverpool in the Premier League on Sunday.
We “deserved more than one point”, said Solskjaer, despite bringing Liverpool’s 17-game winning streak in the league to an end.
Watch his reaction above: