Is Wes Brown Finally Finished?

Ian Walton

It's a question we are all asking, and I suspect he is too.

It was an image that has come to define Sunderland's season; Wes Brown trudging away dejectedly sporting a black eye and a look of total dejection.

The central defender could so easily have been the story of the season in another way. After two years out injured, he returned to the side in the summer and looked like he'd never been away. To borrow the most tired of tired clichés, he was like a new signing.

As the season has worn on, though, so has he. He has looked increasingly off the pace and out of his comfort zone. There was the Hull debacle when he was haplessly sent off in the third minute - undoubtedly a pivotal moment in the season, and now there was Tottenham.

You can't blame Brown entirely for what happened at White Hart Lane. It was a shockingly poor performance full stop, and one in which Sunderland failed miserably to defend their box. It wasn't really conducive to good defending.

However, when Brown was giving the standard rallying calls and excuses to the Sunderland Echo, the following quote just jumped out:

Their player has got behind me for the first and second goals. I should be closer and then I just couldn't get there.

May be I am reading too much into it, but it sounds like a player slowly accepting that he is no longer able, either physically or mentally, for this level of football. I have to say I'm starting to agree.

I certainly hold no animosity toward him for it. Over the years, not just at Sunderland, his body has been through a lot. The game is only getting quicker and he is getting slower.

Of course, whether or not Brown is fit for the Premier League has almost become something of a moot point now, hasn't it? Whether or not he has a contribution to make in the Championship is more relevant, and I think he does.

With one year left on his deal, I'd love nothing more than to see Brown lead Sunderland back to the Premier League. He doesn't need the extra yard of pace in that division and his experience in what is sure to be a difficult time would be invaluable. He could be a modern-day John MacPhail, only without the amazing penalties.

The other big question is whether he can be bothered with that. I suspect that retirement probably isn't too far from his thoughts. I hope he resist the urge. Brown deserves to bow out a winner, not a loser. At the very least, he should bow out chasing success rather than running from failure.

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