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Fergie: Fletch Has A Chance Of Making Final

Sir Alex Ferguson has confirmed that if Darren Fletcher can get match fit before the Champions League final, he will get the chance to play.

Fletch missed out on our last final in 2009 after a disgraceful decision to send him off in the semi-final against Arsenal when we were 3-0 up. He won the ball from Cesc Fabregas but the referee chose to give him a straight red card and award a penalty.

Whilst Fergie tries to avoid sentimentality, he did concede that Paul Scholes would get to play in the 2008 final after missing out through suspension in 1999. Scholes scored the goal that put us in the final that year though, with just the one goal over two legs against Barcelona enough to see us through, which cast aside any doubts that Scholes was playing for any reason other than his own merit.

“Darren has put the weight back on and is back in training, but he has a bit to do yet,” he said. “But, as far as the final is concerned, there is almost three weeks to achieve that. If he does reach the target, it will be a big boost to us as we all know he is big-game player. The 20 minutes he got against Schalke last week was certainly a step forward. His training, in terms of sharpness for such an important game, will be stepped up now.”

If Fletcher is fit for the final, it will certainly give the manager something to think about and could cost Chicharito his place in the starting line-up. I’m sure the manager would be happy with the strength of Park, Giggs, Carrick, Fletcher and Valencia in midfield, with Rooney up front. Without Fletch, it could mean Rooney played deeper with Chicharito up front.

Let’s hope Fletch get 90 minutes under his belt against Blackburn and Blackpool and then see what happens…

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About Scott

Scott is the editor of Red Matters - 50 Years of Supporting Manchester United and an author of Play Like Fergie's Boys and Not Nineteen Forever. He writes for ESPN, The Metro and Bleacher Report. Follow @R_o_M on Twitter.

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180 Comments

  1. King Eric says:

    Someone made a good call. Could Fletcher play at right back a la the energy of Hargreaves when he has played there? Fletch can get up and down, is strong, tactically astute and defends well. Not a bad shout. I do think it will be one of the twins though.

  2. King Eric says:

    FITB – Hello mate. “Giggs the cable guy” I love that name you gave him!

  3. sandeep1878 says:

    @ King Eric..

    yup i made that call mate as it came suddenly to my mind..

    due to the never ending injury cycle we had with our defenders last season, we had seen fletch at RB and CB..

    but i dont think saf will take that risk unless there is no second choice…

  4. fergie is the boss says:

    King Eric – yea hahahaha, anyone else call giggs that and it sticks, remmber I nicknamed giggs the cable guy

  5. willierednut says:

    We have the leagues top scorer and the top assists player. Neither likely to start the champions league final. What other club could get away with that? lol. I’m hoping Berbatov and Nani will make a difference coming off the bench. If we need them, of course. Sometimes, what you have on the bench, can win you games.

  6. willierednut says:

    I don’t think there’s any need to fuck around with formations and players in different positions. We’ve got this far, playing this way, why change It now? Especially against Bartha! We might as well roll the dice and go with these players and this formation. We’re being written off in all quarters. We’ve got fuck all to lose, lets go for It.

  7. FletchTHEMAN says:

    Can you imagine the discussions around the dinner table of the Hernadez house 2 years ago.

    Dad, well son, you can go to United and see what happens or stay and become a legend for Chivas like your Grandfather.
    Javier, well Dad, I’d like to give it a go with those aves frias. I have always had a dream to play in europe so let’s see.

    Now he is a shoe in for the starting 11 in the Champions League final v Barca. Might say he has done alright. Cheers to his mum and da for letting the dream unfold. Mega kudos to Javier for making something of it that could only have been dreamed of.

    Come on you reds. Get behind this team!

  8. sachu says:

    @ willie
    we are going to thrash these barca cunts NO DOUBT

  9. jellybean says:

    @ willierednut – i agree. the football365 mailbox was filled with suggestions of what tactics Utd should use against Barca. suggestions of 3-5-2….wtf? the team isn’t used to playing with just 3 centerbacks, and last season when we did due to injuries, we got fucked. oh and to man mark messi with Giggsy…what tripe. LOL. Barca playing Levante away now btw, needing a point to be La Liga champs. the backline in total disarray…hopefully Utd will be exploit that.

  10. fergie is the boss says:

    jellybean – we have not played 352 since the 1996/97 season

  11. denton davey says:

    byron 1970 @ 17:27: ” To start Fletcher would probably mean that Hernandez doesn’t start. ”

    That’s called “cutting off your nose to spite your face”.

    Anyhow, the key remains that Barcelona present a different kind of challenge and that probably means a different use of resources. I explained my thoughts on this earlier – @ 14:20 – so there’s no need to re-hash them.

    My point-of-departure had to do with the notion of rigid formations – basically, I don’t think that the game is played that way nowadays. And, besides, with a large – and very fleixible squad – SAF has a great many options in the way in which his team lines up. Someone earlier suggested playing Fletcherinho at “right back” but that’s just a way of dressing up a new formation in old jargon. Besides, the Barcelona left side is not their preferred route even though David Villa plays on that side – talk about an embarrassment of riches !

    If Fletcherinho does get a starting assignment then he will be deployed centrally – he will have had to prove his fitness to be playing ahead of a defensive “diamond” with a very attacking-defensive role (it’s not as confusing as it sounds !). Giggs will get the same kind of assignment but he won’t be expected to be so aggressive defensively and more aggressive in attack.

  12. denton davey says:

    WillieRedNut @ 18:27: ” don’t think there’s any need to fuck around with formations and players in different positions. We’ve got this far, playing this way, why change It now?”

    Here we go again – I’m going to disagree with you ! again !

    The fact of the matter is that UTD have not “got this far, playing this way”. There have been major changes in the personnel and shape of the attack and playing Giggs in midfield is another evolution in tactics/personnel. SAF has cut his cloth to fit his suit – or whatever that saying is. He is much more flexible than you give him credit for.

  13. denton davey says:

    jellybean @ 18:47: “the team isn’t used to playing with just 3 centerbacks”

    I disagree – “third centerback” is exactly the description of MchaelCarrick’s game/postioning.

  14. North Stand Tier 2 says:

    It would be a disastrous move for us to move away from the team that beat the rent boys. Its unquestionably our best team. Yes we need to think about Barca, but we have to remember that we have a brilliant defence, and Barca dont, so we must attack them as well. If we sit back, and start playing players out of position to purely stop Barca, just like we did in Rome, the game will pass us by. Fergie said he knew the mistakes he made in Rome, and I’m certain that Rooney wide right, Park very wide left, and Ronaldo isolated upfront on his own were the errors. We have to get at their defence, Pique and Puyol, whilst strong, are a bit dozy, and I’m certain Chicharito can go missing amongst their defence, and nick a goal.

  15. jellybean says:

    @ fitb- we did some game last yr- Park, Evra, Delaet which we lost. Think it was against Fulham?

    @ Denton Davey- well he have a very tactically flexible squad, but that’s not Utd’s style to play only 3 defenders. We’d need our fullbacks for the game- Alves, Maxwell, Adriano all like bombing forward a lot, and that’s something Utd will need to keep in check…aside from the obvious threat of Messi, Pedro, Villa who swap positions during the games a lot.

  16. fergie is the boss says:

    denton davey – do not forget united played 1 upfront against shitty and united lost. No question united have played their best football is when valencia giggs rooney and hernandez have started

  17. fergie is the boss says:

    jellybean – excactly that means if we play 353, we lose numbers at the back, lack of width has valencia and park cannot stretch sides. Why anyone wants united to play a formation that has not been used in ages I dont know. United are flexible, but it still requires united playing 4 at the back.

  18. soren says:

    So is fergie says one things and does another, I do not think Hernandez is not … and another was a Mexican Rafa Marquez at Barcelona in 2009 and now has another but in the United so you have to win the United he he. : )

  19. willierednut says:

    denton davey – Just out of curiosity mate, where did I say Sir Alex isn’t flexible enough? Of course he is. My point is, that you’ve missed, I don’t think he’ll suddenly go 3 at the back. The shape of team has rarely changed that much. We’ve either played a 442, or the 4411, with Rooney playing deeper and Hernandez spearheading the attack. I just don’t see why he would drastically change the formation to 3 in defense, at this stage. If I’m wrong and you’re right, kudos to you. I won’t hold my breath. Carrick plays in front of Vidic and Rio. That’s how I see It. The third center half, as you put it, is your opinion. Great debate, none the less. We all agree, whatever the boss goes with, just win the bloody game lads!

  20. willierednut says:

    Oh yeah, playing a 352/3511 could confuse and frustrate Barcelona. The problem with that, It could confuse our players as well. Square pegs and round holes, springs to mind. Didn’t SAF say playing 3 central defenders is out of date, after Steve Mclaren famously played that formation away to Croatia? Worked out well that night, didn’t It?

  21. Dakota says:

    yikes, lots of pressure. I would like to see Fergie make it back out in time. I guess we will see what happens

  22. denton davey says:

    Jellybean @ 19:32: “Alves, Maxwell, Adriano all like bombing forward a lot, and that’s something Utd will need to keep in check…”

    Maxwell and Adriano are both hurt – not sure if they’re going to play at all; probably they will use Mascherano or Abidal, neither of whom is an attacking player. Alves is a pure attacker – not much of a defender – and an outrageous diver. Alves is always part of their attack so, in reality, they mostly play with three at the back.

  23. denton davey says:

    WillieRedNut @ 20:59: “playing a 352/3511 could confuse and frustrate Barcelona. The problem with that, It could confuse our players as well. ”

    I disagree – again ! I can’t see how our players would be confused since the only guy whose role would be “different” in the 3-5-1-1 would be DarrenFletcherinho – and he has often player at right back as well as on the right side of central midfield.

    I guess that I haven’t made my point clear enough so let me try one last time. Barcelona present three problems – first, Lionel Messi/Dani Alves (and also Pedro) are on the right side of their attack and they tend to work the ball to them and through them so it is necessary to have a “solution” to this problem; second, their central midfielders – Xavi/Iniesta/Biscuits – are all good on the ball but tend to play fairly deep (behind the “D”) so a pressing two-man midfield with a deeper-lying “sweeper” (i.e., MichaelCarrich as the third center back)) would seem to what’s required to address this problem; and, third, due to the imbalance caused by Barcelona’s tilt towards the right side, their left-sided players are less likely to be their pivot and, what’s more, their left-sided fullback is not given the same attacking responsibilities as Alves on the right side. Furthermore, what they really like to do is play tippy-tappy and then execute a quick one-two/wall pass to cut into the heart of the defence to walk the ball into the net so Rio/Vidic have to maintain discipline and stay on their feet, pushing them outside.

    Of course, to win the game UTD have to score and this is where I can’t see Chichario being benched because he can effectively pin down both Puyol and Pique. This should give WayneBoy plenty of freedom to roam between their lines – unless Biscutis is employed to man-mark him. The outside threat from Valencia will pn back their left back – same as with Ca$hley ‘ole on Sunday – which relates back to one of the pointo about their “tilt” which I made in the previous paragraph. ThreeLungPark/Patrice Evra are going to have HUGE responsibility in controlling Alves’ runs and forcing Messi to go to the outside (on his weaker right foot).

    That’s the way I see it – maybe it’s provocative to call this game plan a 3-5-2 but I really don’t see how a conventional 4-4-2 effectively deals with the problems Barcelona create for their opponents – as I said in my earlier post.

    Of course, what I think doesn’t matter – nor does your opinion count. But the fun of Scott’s blog is that it enables us to think “out loud” and see if we make any sense whatsoever.

  24. denton davey says:

    where’s StateSideAussie ? he’s usually an interestsing contributor on these issues

    calling StateSideAussie, calling StateSideAussie

  25. willierednut says:

    Again, that’s all in your opinion. We haven’t got no credentials on formations and picking players, just opinions. It don’t really don’t matter what formation we go with, Barcelona will be a tough team to stop. Sit too deep and they will eventually break us down. Try the gung ho approach and get caught on the counter attack. Man mark Messi and some other player will do us damage. I suppose I’m going on the fact, that Fergie hasn’t played the formation being suggested. It’s just sounds as fantasy, he would revert to that system. Mourinho got some success against this lot and Fergie has apparently been sounding out the preening peacock about how to tackle Bartha. In all honesty, I don’t think you can totally stop the lad Messi. Bar knocking him out, that is. I said a few weeks ago, that our best chance, could be them thinking they’ve already won the final. One things for sure, our players will need to play the game of the their lives. Hopefully Barcelona will not be 100% on their game. Wishful thinking, I know.

  26. Louis says:

    agree with earlier posters that we should stick with the form players. i think with hernandez’s pace creating room for valencia against their weak defence, we have a shot at an early goal. we can bring fletcher on in the second half to shore things up. we just need to be on point with our passing. cant afford to give the ball away. thats another reason why i hope we stick with this team because with rooney dropping deep and sharing passing duties, carrick is under less pressure and he looks the better player for it.

  27. willierednut says:

    denton davey – By the way, we don’t have to score in the alloted time to win the cup. Draw 0 0 and win on penalties. I don’t think we could take the drama of another penalty shoot out!

  28. Mr C says:

    I hope that Berbatov can get on at some stage and get a medal.

  29. ks says:

    Fingers crossed for Fletch. We know that he will be imperative to breaking the X-I-M triangle, and certainly missed his presence on the field in 2009 *a lot*

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