Big Match

Signs of Manchester United revival in loss to City: Wes Brown

Midfielder Paul Pogba (left), defender Victor Lindelof and their Manchester United teammates could not handle Manchester City in the second half of their 2-0 Premier League derby defeat on Wednesday. There has been speculation over the future of club
Midfielder Paul Pogba (left), defender Victor Lindelof and their Manchester United teammates could not handle Manchester City in the second half of their 2-0 Premier League derby defeat on Wednesday. There has been speculation over the future of club-record signing Pogba, goalkeeper David de Gea, and misfiring striker Romelu Lukaku in recent weeks.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Ex-Red Devils defender sees hope in first-half display that could spark reversal of fortunes

Alarm bells may have rung at Old Trafford after Manchester United's 2-0 derby defeat on Wednesday, with manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reportedly summoned to a crisis meeting with executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward the next day.

But former United defender Wes Brown saw a glimmer of hope, one that could spark a reversal of fortunes and hopefully propel the Red Devils to a top-four finish and Champions League qualification.

"Manchester City have been the best team in the league over the last two years and they could not ease up on any games as well, but I felt we did well in the first half," said the 39-year-old.

"We kept the ball well, pressed a bit... then City came out in the second half and scored two goals.

"I am sure goalkeeper David (de Gea) will be disappointed, especially with the second goal, but mistakes happen."

Sixth-placed United face a must-win three-game run-in, beginning with Chelsea tonight. The Blues are fourth with a three-point cushion while Arsenal, in fifth, have two more points.

"The fourth spot is still alive, I reckon," added Brown, who will be watching the game with fans at the Clarke Quay Fountain Square during the Football Moments event, presented by Chang Beer and organised by Singtel Media.

MASS EXODUS UNLIKELY

It's not like you can get rid of seven or eight players and bring in the same number of top-quality players in one summer. It'll take a period of time.

WES BROWN, former Manchester United defender, on the speculation over some players' futures.

"We've to win all our games and hope there's a fall elsewhere. It's all about creating our own chances, and getting a bit of luck on our side."

All three teams have blown hot and cold at the tail end of the season. Chelsea have won just three of their last seven games while Arsenal have lost three of their last four.

United have lost four of their last six, a dip in form which coincided with Solskjaer being made permanent manager on March 28.

Before that, United were unbeaten in 11 games in all competitions under the Norwegian, who took over after Jose Mourinho's sacking last December.

Asked what he felt had gone wrong, Brown, who played alongside Solskjaer in United's 1999 Treble-winning side, said: "I wish I could tell you. There's obviously been a drop in confidence somewhere, but I know from my playing days that when that happens, you just have to work harder as a team and pull it out from somewhere."

The former England man added that, regardless of whether United qualify for next season's Champions League, having the right players at the club will be crucial.

There has been speculation over the future of goalkeeper de Gea, record signing Paul Pogba and misfiring striker Romelu Lukaku, among others, in recent weeks.

Said Brown: "It's not like you can get rid of seven or eight players and bring in the same number of top-quality players in one summer. It'll take a period of time.

"But I'm sure Ole has got players in mind he wants to sign, and I'm sure he wants them in early. He knows what he needs... after (the 4-0 loss at) Everton, he talked about wanting more running, wanting people to be fitter.

"Ole's watching and seeing every day in training, and he understands who has been giving his all and who hasn't."

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SEE ALSO: Malaise at Man United not simply down to de Gea alone

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 28, 2019, with the headline 'Signs of United revival in loss to City: Brown'. Print Edition | Subscribe