They keep on coming…
With Marco Cassetti, seemingly now a centre back, aging; Tommie Hoban struggling to overcome an ankle injury; Nyron Nosworthy waylaid with a ruptured Achilles and Adam Thompson without a squad number and looking like he’s on his way out of the club, Reece Brown has spent pre-season with the squad on trial to see if he’s the man to provide cover at the centre back position. It was announced earlier in the week that Brown had done enough to earn a two year contract.
To be quite honest, there’s not an awful lot to say about Reece Brown. The main talking point is obvious: he’s Wes Brown’s brother. This isn’t a great thing for two reasons. The first is that having your sibling being your man characteristic after three years of being a pro suggests you haven’t done much to earn any other significant reviews. The second is that his brother is Wes Brown. Urgh.
But let’s give him his due. For every Lewis Young there’s a Yaya Touré (that’s not actually true, I had to think long and hard to come up with a superior younger sibling), a player does not have to be defined by his family.
Reece, released by Manchester United in the summer, had been at the club since he was nine. He rose through the ranks as far as one can at the ‘biggest club in the world’™, meaning he was shipped out on loan the moment he turned 18. Brief spells at League Two Bradford and Championship Doncaster returned three appearances apiece. He was part of the hotchpotch squad that assembled for the 2011 Under-20 World Cup in which England played four games and scored no goals. To his credit, Brown was part of the defence that managed to only concede one goal in those four games (they got to the quarter finals off the back of three 0-0 draws in the group).
Brown remained at Old Trafford for the bulk of the following 11/12 season, though he ended the campaign at Oldham in League One. There he got his first taste of regular professional football, starting 15 games in a row as the Lactics secured a mid-table position.
That summer a deal was struck to take him to Coventry for the season, as the Sky Blues tried to rebuild their desolate squad after relegation from the Championship. This started well enough as Brown started the first five games of the season. Boss Andy Thorn was sacked after poor results in these games, however, and Mark Robins, his replacement, only gave him a couple of chances to impress before dropping him down the pecking order, never to be seen in a blue shirt again.
United terminated the loan in January after several months of inaction and a month later Ipswich took him on until the end of the season, ostensibly as a loan, though it was really an extended trial.
There’s really not a lot to go on. As Brown is only 21, you cannot dismiss him because of one or two loans going awry. Coventry were in a pretty bad place when Robins came in, and he most likely thought that more experience was needed to wrestle them up the table. He sorted them out and earnt himself a Championship job, so he was probably right.
In any case, Brown won’t be first choice at Watford. Lee Hodson leaving and Adam Thompson looking like he won’t be far behind means that we need back-up at the back. From what I saw during the second half at Stevenage, Reece is a perfectly capable, big defender – he was quick to the ball and put in a couple of full-blooded blocks.
Though youth rarely gets a chance at Manchester United, you still have to be talented to get yourself on the books there in the first place. Now away from the safety net of his hometown club, it’s time to build his career, starting at a lower level, backing up what looks to be one of the most talented defences we’ve seen at Watford in many a while.