Ferguson turns to Brown after Vidic sees red
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson will turn to Wes Brown to fill the defensive void left by the suspension of Nemanja Vidic following the Serbian's dismissal in last night's damaging loss at the hands of Chelsea.
Vidic was sent off for a second bookable offence in the final minutes of the 2-1 defeat at Stamford Bridge, which means United will be without either of their first-choice central defenders for Sunday's Premier League game at Liverpool.
Rio Ferdinand is still troubled by the calf injury he sustained in the warm-up prior to the defeat at Wolves a month ago, so Brown will fill the central defensive vacancy alongside youngster Chris Smalling. "I don't think Rio will be fit for Liverpool," said Ferguson. "Wes Brown will take over. He has great experience."
United will head to Merseyside under some degree of pressure following their second Premier League reverse of the campaign. Although they retain a healthy 12-point advantage over Chelsea, the gap to nearest challengers Arsenal is only four, and both clubs now have a game in hand on Ferguson's men.
Frank Lampard scored a late penalty for Chelsea after Smalling was deemed to have brought down Chelsea substitute Yuri Zhirkov with ten minutes remaining. It was a hammer blow for United, who suffered just their second league defeat this season despite taking the lead through Wayne Rooney's first-half strike, before Brazilian defender David Luiz equalised with his first goal for Chelsea soon after half-time.
Ferguson may reflect that Rooney might not have been on the pitch to give United their first-half lead given his actions at Wigan on Saturday, although, last night, the United boss was full of praise for his striker. "Wayne was terrific," he said. "He was a constant threat. He took a lot of abuse but he kept coming back."