Phelan: Get off Brown's back

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Manchester United coach Mike Phelan has called on critics to get off the back of defender Wes Brown.

The 24-year-old has come in for criticism since coming in to replace the suspended Rio Ferdinand, who is in the midst of his ban for missing a drugs test back in September.

The England man has been targeted as one of the reasons for United's defensive frailties in the last couple of matches, with five goals conceded in the last two games.

However, Phelan believes critics have been quick to blame Brown, despite the fact that the player has had to overcome knee and ankle problems that have plagued his career to his point.

"It is a testament to Wes's determination that he has even managed to get back onto a football pitch," claimed Phelan.

"He got his head round the fact that he has had big injuries and that he needed to recuperate a lot harder than anybody else at the club.

"It is stating the obvious to say Rio is out of the team. It is early stages for Wes and he is still picking up the pieces.

"But we shouldn't just look at him. He is part of a back four and an 11-man team.

"It is important all the players realise we have to defend better and that is what we have been working on the training ground.

"The players understand it is not just about being a free-flowing team.

"You have to deal with the other side which is about defending set-pieces in particular but I'm sure in time we will see a very tight Manchester United defence."