The former Manchester United and Kerala Blasters defender had much to say regarding Indian football.
Wes Brown loves Indian people. The man who had a short stint at the Kerala Blasters last season looked happy in a Manchester United t-shirt in Chennai at the #ILoveUnited event last week. With a stubble, he flaunted his still-approaching age.
Khel Now got into a conversation with the former United defender and starte in rapid-fire mode first. The sportsman was game for the same. With ledge, he later explained, he meant – the added quality, the added support to the side. Everything else was easy, but his last answer had us grinning.
Rapid-fire with Wes Brown
We started with Kerala Blasters and his time at the ISL club. “I really enjoyed my time at Kerala Blasters. I got on really well with my teammates and it was a really good experience, not only playing football in the ISL, but also living in India, learning more about the culture and of course the food!” said the 39-year-old.
People and food, something that Indians are proud of. Talking about the standard of the league, the defender suggested that while it has come a long way, there’s still some ground to cover. “I think some of the facilities available need some investment, but that will happen as the league continues to grow. I think the main thing to improve the league is to start at the bottom with the kids. If you can inspire school kids then that’s your next generation of players and fans. The more into it they are, the more they want to play and watch the game,” explained Brown.
Brown had impressive words for the Kerala Blasters youngster
Reserving special praise for the talented Sahal Abdul Samad the Englishman quipped, “He has worked hard and is (one of) the next generation of players (coming from India). (He’s) doing well and has recently earned a call-up to the national side.” Samad was picked by national team manager Stephen Constantine in the preliminary squad for the AFC Asian Cup 2019, but was subsequently dropped from the final list.
Moving on, we asked him to compare Rene Meulensteen’s time at United as an assistant manager to his time at Kerala Blasters, where he was heading the coaching staff. Brown said it was a difficult evaluation.
“Two different leagues, two such different roles,” he added, with an undersigned tone of empathy. “He was a very successful coach at United and being a manager (here) is different. I think playing in India is very different too. He likes a style of football and we unfortunately weren’t able to get many wins at the beginning. It’s an 18-game season (in the ISL), so there is little room for error. If you don’t win games at the beginning then you are playing catch-up, which is hard to come back from, in such a short season.”
On the impact of Sir Alex Ferguson on him and his career he said – immense. “He was there from the very beginning and taught me everything. Not only how to play. When you sign for United as a kid, you learn how to behave in a certain way. That wearing that badge means something and you are respectful of that,” Brown stated, with a tinge of nostalgia of his youth years.
He continued and we didn’t want him to stop. “Sir Alex is the best manager, without a doubt and he has had a huge impact on many players’ careers. I don’t think anyone can replicate what he has done. There are many great managers out there, but no one is like him.” Most United players who’ve had reasonable stints under him will tell you the same thing. Unflinching ability, unflinching man-management.
“The players seem to enjoy playing together, not that they didn’t before, but I think he seems to have got them to mix and gel together well. You saw at the World Cup he did some fun things with them as a team and I think that helped. It was still competitive, but not as much with each other. There were also no real expectations from this World Cup, so the pressure didn’t get to them,” said the man, who received the team-sheets for the United-Liverpool game and smiled after a look at them.
We continued after United’s 3-1 loss to Liverpool, that underlined the event. Brown, though, sounded convincing in his support for the club he wears as his pride. “Supporting Manchester United is like a religion for most of our fans and it’s a great opportunity for us to visit countries like India, where we may not get the chance to travel with the team.
It is really important for the club to engage with our fans and this is a great opportunity for fans to learn more about the club. There is nothing like being at Old Trafford, but by coming together and watching a game together, our fans can experience a little bit of that feeling.”
Most United fans would agree with him, won’t they?