Against West Brom at the weekend, both Gary Neville and Wes Brown found themselves on the bench, with Rafael Da Silva starting at right back. Neville replaced the Brazilian with just over an hour played, whilst Wes remained on the bench throughout.
Whilst I think it’s a great thing to have so many competent players on the books, I do worry about whether there will be enough games to keep all our players happy. Giving Rafael Premiership experience at this stage is brilliant and something I encourage, but then, is it fair that comes at the cost of Wes’ spot in the team? We should be looking to the future, certainly, but Wes played more games for us than any player last season, but has only earned 4 starts from a possible 10 games in the league and in Europe.
He’s not grumbling about it though, which can only be admired, saying these kinds of selection problems are good for the team.
“It’s healthy competition,” Brown said. “Rafael’s come in this season and he’s a quality young player; I’m sure he’s the future for Manchester United. Me and Gary Neville have been here for donkey’s years. We’re all fighting for the same place, but as long as the gaffer’s got that selection problem then it’s good for the team. I’m sure whoever he picks [against Celtic] will play well.”
Sir Alex agreed with Wes, although did concede Rafael is far from this finished article yet.
“Wes is right,” he said. “[Rafael’s form] gives me a selection problem but it’s good for the club. The boy has talent but he found out on Saturday [against West Bromwich Albion] that Premier League football isn’t easy. For periods of the game he was still finding his way. It was only when I decided to take him off he started to play the way we know he can. In the 10 minutes before he came off he was absolutely superb – the positions he took up and the penetration he achieved was superb. I brought Gary on to give us that bit more experience, though. But Rafael’s a great talent. In football, when a guy turns a corner [and starts showing great form] you can’t do anything about it.”
Who should start against Celtic?