Bengaluru: Ahead of Manchester United's clash with Arsenal on Sunday, former United defender Wes Brown has asked fans to cherish the good times that Arsene Wenger brought to the Premier League with Arsenal, instead of criticising his recent performances. On 20 April, the Frenchman announced that he will step down from the role at the end of the season after serving the club as a manager for 22 long years.
"I'm not disappointed that he has stepped down, but it is sad because he has been a great manager. A lot of fans were not happy that he didn't win the Premier League title for 10 years. But this is a time to celebrate his achievements, rather than focus on the negatives," Brown told reporters during his visit at the 'Theatre of Dreams' — a recreation of the Old Trafford stadium experience by Uber — in Bengaluru.
In the reverse fixture on 2 December, United ended Arsenal's 12-match home winning run thanks to Jesse Lingard's double and Antonio Valencia's early strike. Despite the win, it was United custodian David De Gea's heroics on the night that stole the show at the Emirates. The Spaniard made a miraculous, record-equalling 14 saves to keep the Gunners at bay.
However, De Gea has been linked with a move to La Liga giants Real Madrid in recent years and it is likely that they will come back for him in the summer. But Brown hopes that Spanish No 1 remains at Old Trafford for years to come.
"He is an unbelievable talent. You have seen in recent games how good he was. I just hope he stays as long as possible with Manchester United. I think he is the best goalkeeper in the world," said Brown, who left United in 2011.
De Gea endured a tough start to life in Manchester after arriving in 2011 but has since emerged as one of the best goalkeepers in the world. He has saved United on countless occasions every season. Given his extraordinary ability between the sticks, De Gea would be virtually impossible to replace. "It would have been difficult to leave him out of the starting line-up even during my time," Brown added.
Earlier in the day, during the pre-match press conference in Manchester, United manager Jose Mourinho told the British media that Spanish shot-stopper will remain at the club next season. Hence, this news should come as a welcome relief for the impatient fans and Brown.
The 38-year-old left United in the summer of 2011, just eight days after De Gea's arrival from Atletico Madrid, to join Sunderland on a four-year contract. He won the Man of the Match award on his debut against Liverpool, which ended in a 1-1 draw and scored an own goal against United later.
A few days ago, Sunderland suffered a second successive relegation after a narrow loss to Burton Albion in the English Championship.
Brown revealed the disappointment over his former side's relegation first from the Premier League and now from the English Championship.
"I am absolutely gutted. I don't think they have got the players they wanted at the start of the season and they had to deal with a lot of injuries as well. It's very disappointing as well for my former United teammate John O'Shea, who is still there," said Brown, who made 76 appearances for the Black Cats before joining Blackburn on a short-term contract in 2016.
In 2017, Brown plied his trade for the Kerala Blasters in the Indian Super League (ISL), where he was reunited with former United coach Rene Meulensteen and teammate Dimitar Bertabov. After playing for the Kochi outfit, Brown felt that Indian football must continue to improve its standards.
"It (ISL) is four-years-old. When I joined I knew it would be different. I enjoyed my time at Kerala. The lads were great, they understand the game. It's not the Premier League, it's different. Hopefully, they can increase the standards through the years," he observed.
The two-time Champions League winner is hopeful of extending his stay with the Blasters. "I have a meeting with the manager (David James) in a couple of weeks. I want to play football for as long as I can," Brown concluded.
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Updated Date: Apr 28, 2018 20:08:02 IST