Was Sir Alex Ferguson premature in letting Brown go?

In a summer consisting of transfers with overinflated fees, Sunderland look to have picked up quite a bargain with Wes Brown who cost them only £1 million from Manchester United. The 31-year-old, who made his debut in 1998 at Old Trafford, ended his 15 year relationship with United after making 361 appearances, winning two Champions Leagues, five Premier Leagues, two FA Cups and two League Cups during his successful period at the club.

It appears that the former England international has decided playing regularly for another Premier League team is better than his 15 appearances last season for United. However was it the right time for Ferguson to let Brown leave?

Brown was a fantastic servant at Manchester United with his robust, no nonsense style of play keeping him in Ferguson’s mindset until the recent signings of Smalling last summer and the arrival of Phil Jones this. Brown’s versatility gave Man United options in defence but the emergence of the two Da Silva twins meant he lost his berth as the first-choice right back.

There were no hard feelings from the United fans towards Brown, who had given his all during his time at the club and the majority accepted that it was probably the right time for him and teammate John O’Shea to leave for pastures new.

However I have a feeling that Ferguson may be regretting letting Brown go with the injury problems the club are currently experiencing. Vidic is out for five games, Ferdinand for a few weeks and first-choice right-back Rafael will miss a minimum of ten weeks. With Premier League games coming up against Spurs and Arsenal both at Old Trafford, Bolton away and then Chelsea at home, it leaves a relatively inexperienced defence for some tricky looking games. A back four of Evra, Jones, Evans, Smalling is a defensive unit that has not played together before, luckily both Arsenal and Spurs look less of a threat than last season but if Brown was still at the club it is pretty much certain that he would been in the starting eleven adding experience to the defence.

One of the explanations why he was allowed to leave is because of his unreliable fitness and he did spend as much time on the treatment table as on the pitch at Old Trafford. By offering Brown a four-year deal at the club Steve Bruce is taking a big risk especially for a player with such a precarious injury record as the contract will not end until he is 36-years-old.

Ferguson has an impressive record with letting players depart the club at just the right time. Nicky Butt did well at Newcastle but his career was drawing to a close where Rudd Van Nistelrooy never repeated the same sort of form after he left. In the short term letting Brown go may look a mistake but in the future it will give the youngsters a chance
to play in the first team and established themselves at the club.

Injuries may have hampered Brown’s time at Old Trafford but his class was evident in Sunderland’s first game of the season against Liverpool keeping Suarez and Carroll quiet with a fine defensive display, showing all the virtues that made him a central player at Old Trafford for so long. Brown was previously considered the ‘best natural defender’ at United by Ferguson and there was certainly plenty of support to back up that claim at Anfield. Whatever you think about Ferguson’s decision, Steve Bruce should be delighted with his new defender.

Let me know your thoughts; was Ferguson premature in letting Brown leave? Or was it the right time for both parties? Follow me on twitter @aidanmccartney for more football discussion.