Latics’ links with Michael Brown can be traced right back to his days as a young prospect with Manchester City. The bustling midfielder, ready to leave the Sky Blues amid rumours of attitude problems and lifestyle issues, declined the offer of a spell at the JJB back then and eventually left to join Sheffield United. Fast forward a few years and, after a couple more attempts to lure Brown to the land of pies, Latics finally got their man. An undisclosed fee, thought to be in the region of £3m, making him Chris Hutchings’ 7th signing of the summer.
Brown’s most productive season came in his last at Bramhall Lane, playing as an attacking midfielder he managed 21 goals a record that caught the eye of a few big teams and won him a move to Tottenham. His energy and commitment quickly won over the Spurs fans, but failed to make the same impact with the management team and he never really established himself amongst the numerous midfielders battling for a place at White Hart Lane.
This ultimately led to a move to Fulham where he quickly established himself as a first team regular, eventually taking the Captain’s armband. Brown’s role at Fulham saw him peg back his attacking instincts and settling down to do some of the dirty work in the middle of the park. Last season, as Fulham struggled, Brown was one of the few players to take any credit, walking away with the player of the season award. The upshot of this being that, even as Latics’ bid for the player had been accepted, Laurie Sanchez was making plans for Brown to lead his new look side for the coming season.
Comparisons with Jimmy Bullard are inevitable, the players moving in opposite directions for similar amounts. On face value, Brown could easily fill the gap left by Bullard. He might not quite have shown the same level of instinct going forward but in return he offers a little more ‘steel’. In short he could end up being the awkward little so and so our team missed last year.
However he is used, Brown’s arrival certainly raises questions about Latics’ starting line up for next season. Even if we assume that Koumas will line up on the flank, Hutchings will be left with what could be a difficult choice in the middle of the park. Last season’s form suggests that it is Denny Landzaat that should be most concerned for his place.
However Brown’s willingness to get about the pitch, and put a foot in, points to him competing with Paul Scharner for a place. Indeed he made his debut against Barnsley last night, before the ink had dried on his contract, as a replacement for Scharner.
This signing might not add too many to Latics’ gates next season, but it is a good one for the club. We were short on numbers in the middle of the park and consistently looked weak. Obviously, Brown gives us an extra man in there and we hope that his presence will make it a little harder to drive a bus through the middle of the team, but only time will tell. Until then, we doff our caps, proffer the ceremonial meat and prater and welcome the newest member of the tics fraternity. How do Mick, have a good un!
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