Fergie singles out defender
By Adam Marshall
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Although it could be argued there were no bright spots for Manchester United in their uninspiring 2-1 reverse, Ferguson is pleased with his central defender's reaction to sustained criticism following his return to fitness.
Brown has been asked to fill in for the suspended Rio Ferdinand but was taken out of the firing line before returning as a substitute against Leeds United. After entering the fray as a substitute for Mikael Silvestre, the England international was outjumped by Alan Smith as the Leeds striker plundered a crucial equaliser at Old Trafford.
Ferguson, who took Brown off at half time during the shock home loss to Middlesbrough, is clearly concerned that the 24-year-old regains some of his previous swagger.
"There is a lack of confidence at the moment," admitted the United boss. "When you are losing goals, it does affect you and it's unfortunate that it's the back four which is suffering from injuries and suspension.
"But one of the things that does not encourage me is that Wes Brown is getting better all the time.
"His performance on Wednesday was outstanding. It was more of what we expect of him.
"He will get better as the weeks go on and, when he gets his game right, there is no doubt in my mind that he is one of the best defenders in the country."
Ferguson is under no illusions of what is being asked of his side in the wake of their downturn in form.
"We have been written off many times over the years and the only way to respond is by winning football matches," he added.
"The situation we find ourselves in at the moment is a simple one.
"We need to win every game."