Amongst the large number of squad changes Sir Alex Ferguson is expected to make for Manchester United’s Carling Cup meeting with West Ham, nobody will be looking forward to the quarter final more than defender Wes Brown. First team appearances are few and far between these days making the veteran eager to get the most of the opportunities he gets before his advancing years catch up. Now past his 31st birthday and with his present contract due to expire at the end of next season, Brown is not sure how much time he has left at Old Trafford. There have even been suggestions that the former England international could be leaving United during one of the next two transfer windows.
Together with Javier Hernandez, Chris Smalling and goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak, Brown looks certain to be one of numerous new faces in the starting line up at Upton Park. “I am not getting any younger now and every game I do play I just try to enjoy and do my best for the team” he confessed “you have to give everything for the cause. That is the most important thing for me.”
Brown is a Carling Cup ever present this season, skippering United to victory over Wolves in the last round and it would be no surprise if he was handed the armband again. “It has been great to be back playing some games” he said “I am really enjoying things at the moment. I am training hard and hopefully I will have more opportunities in the coming months.”
Ferguson is of the firm opinion that United have yet to play to their full potential even though they have returned to the top of the Premier League following Saturday’s 7-1 demolition of Blackburn at Old Trafford. The side unbeaten so far, with seven draws and eight wins from 15 league games and have yet to concede a goal in Europe.
West Ham boss Avram Grant remembers his tussles with Ferguson from the days he was in charge at Chelsea including the 2008 Champions League final when the Blues were beaten on penalties in Moscow. He has no doubt in his mind that United will be leading the chase for honours again this season.
“When I was at Chelsea Ferguson described that season as the best season ever – but even then they did not start so well” he remembers “you don’t need to be at your best in the first few months, but at the end. Sir Alex is very clever, he does it every year. I can’t remember one season when United started with full power.”
Grant is fully aware of the fact that “It’s not very often that West Ham comes to a quarter final of any competition so we will try to win this game.” It may only be the Carling Cup but Grant can rest assured that Ferguson and Brown will be wanting another semi final spot just as badly.
Should Ferguson field his strongest starting line up for this Quarter Final?