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Fletch: I’m Ready To Play On Saturday

Darren Fletcher has confirmed that he feels ready to play at Wembley, if selected by the manager.

“I feel ready to play,” said Fletcher. “I have had a couple of reserve games, which I have found even more difficult because other people are trying to make an impression. It was important to get 90 minutes today ahead of the big game next weekend but now it is not for me to decide. All you can do is your best. The lads who got us there have done really well, so the manager has a lot of decisions to make. We have a big squad, everyone is fit and there is competition for places on the bench.”

Many people believe that the 2009 final could have been different, if Fletch hadn’t cruelly missed out after he was incorrectly sent off in the semi-finals against Arsenal. He was so important then and always showed up for the big games.

This season has been different, with Fletch missing out on the last three months of the season because of a virus. After recovering from the illness, he then had to work hard at putting on the weight he had lost.

However, even before his illness, Fletch hasn’t been anywhere near as effective for us this season. You couldn’t fault his work rate but his end product consistently wasn’t good enough.

We’ve used our squad well this season but there have been several players who have been key to us progressing to the final. The starting XI seems to pick itself based on that, particularly in midfield and up front. It’s hard to see past Park, Giggs, Carrick, Valencia, Rooney and Chicharito.

However, in 2008, Sir Alex Ferguson revealed that he would pick Paul Scholes for sentimental reasons after he missed out on the final in 1999.

Fletch was in the squad but didn’t play in 2008, was unfairly ruled out in 2009, so would Ferguson be tempted to put Darren in the midfield and drop Chicharito?

Only time will tell…

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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  1. RD54 says:

    Tony. Rio. Vida. Pat
    Flecth. Carrick. Giggs. Park
    Wazza. Chico

    Just replace fabio by Tony much attacking force and flecth are good cover when Tony go up ,okay??

    Bench : berba mo7 fabio chris scholes

  2. Johnny5 says:


    Thats not a bad idea actually. Tony has shown he can play in that position and will be much more attacking than the da silva twins or sheasy.

    I was hoping we’d go for this

    Rio Vida Smalling
    Tony Fletch Carrick Park
    Rooney Giggs

    Though I really cannot see smalling and fletch starting or having just 3 defenders. Would be too risky for a massive game like this. I personally hope our die-hard fans will attend the match and not the ‘prawn sandwich’ brigade. The team is going to need all the support it can get.

  3. Deathnote says:

    Man united 1-1 Barcelona

    United to win on penalties

  4. Saad says:

    My question mark is Fabio. Yeah, he’s better in attack than Rafael but Fabio has only half the experience that Rafael has. And whoever plays on that right side will have to contend with David Villa.

  5. anderson08 says:

    Please don’t Fletch, let Park do the dirty work.

  6. denton davey says:

    My two cents’ worth:

    I can’t see DarrenFletcherinho getting a starting role – but he will be on the bench because this match could go 120 minutes and the pitch at Wembley is big and saps energy.

    Barcelona’s game plan is all about pressure, building a lead, and the doing a rope-a-dope. They were fortunate in two ties leading up to this one – against TheArse van Persie was sent off ridiculously and then Bendtner missed a gilt-edged chance; against TheVirus in Madrid, they made no impression until Pepe was sent off for a phantom foul on Alves (who looked like he’d been shot but was up and running around in three minutes’ time) which changed the whole dynamic of the tie.

    In both cases, the opposition managers – Whinger and Maureen – seemed to have a pretty good game-plan: absorb pressure, compress the space around the “D”, and let Barcelona run themselves into the ground. This plan worked in London in the first leg when TheArse were able to escape with a 2-1 victory (even though Barcelona had lots of chances, they were dead-on-their-feet in the last quarter of the game). Something similar was used by UTD in 2008 semi-final when the GingerNinja pissed on their parade and then again in 2010 when Maureen was able to beat them 3-1 at the San SIro and then his Inter team kept them at arm’s length in the return leg. So, it’s not like Barcelona have been imperious, hegemonic, and dominant in their big games.

    Another thing – Barcelona over-load the playing field to their right side. Alves and Messi both start wide right and cut in to shoot. Messi heavily favours his left foot while Alves is a right-footer who has a strong but very inaccurate shot. Alves is very “adventurous” but he’s not a very accurate crosser – and, besides, crossing into the box is not their game; Barcelona like to “walk the ball into the net”. Messi is extraordinarily dangerous – his close-control-at-speed is astounding and he has exceptional balance combined with the ability to shoot with almost no back-lift. The key to beating Barcelona is to keep Messi at bay, at arm’s length, and to close off space to prevent his penetrating runs and wall passes with Iniesta and Xavi. That’s a tall order but nobody expects this to be an easy challenge.

    To my way of thinking, therefore, it’s imperative to shunt Messi to the outside,outside, outside. Indeed, push both Messi and Alves towards the touch-line. This means that Patrice Evra has to be very diligent – no walkabouts ! – and ThreeLungPark has a huge responsibility, aided and abetter by SirRyanGiggs in forcing Messi to the outside – or backwards.

    Barcelona are vulnerable on the counter-attack – TheArse scored twice in London in that way; InterMilan scored three at the San Siro. So, I’d be astonished if Chicharito didn’t start – especially after the dismal finishing by Dimmy in the FACup semi-final and again yesterday. WayneBoy is going to have a lot of space between the lines – and I’d expect Antonio Valencia will venture forward to stretch their left-side (Eric Abidal and David Villa) which should put even more onus on the right-side of Alves/Messi. In those circumstances, SirRyanGiggs will have a role as a one-man, roving fire brigade – assisting ThreeLungPark and sometimes joining the attack to ghost into space on the edge of their box when the opportunity presents itself.

    The last thing I’d say is that the longer the match goes on, the better UTD’s chances – having Nani, the DaSilva twins, DarrenFletcherinho, the GingerNinja, and Dimmy in reserve provides lots of beter options than Barcelona have.

  7. AlphaRS says:

    Although I feel for Fletcher the Champions League Final is no place for sentiment. His form hasn’t been great this season even before his mystery illness.
    In my opinion Ji Sung Park has earnt his right to play in the Final. Why break up a winning team?
    Put Park on Messi. Hernandez also can not be dropped. His pace on the counter attack will be vital against Puyol and Pique. Come on United. I have a special feeling this year.

  8. Saad says:

    @denton davey

    If what you’re saying is true about Barca favoring their right flank, then our counter-attacks should come mostly from the left side.

  9. jonathan says:

    As it stands, the only factors warranting Fletch’s inclusion are sentiment and speculation. Sentiment as you said earlier because he missed the last final unjustly; and speculation in hoping he can return to full fitness and return to a form in which we haven’t seen for a year now.

    IMO, those are not good enough reasons, especially when there are others in the ranks who have been on form and proven effective as of late. If he were playing this season up to the standard he had from the previous two, it would make it a harder call, but even before the virus he rarely had a standout game.

    In all likelyhood, Fergie’s gonna select Park and Valencia anyways who will be picked ahead of Nani mostly due to their defensive abilities. Add that to Carrick’s inclusion and you already have a fairly defensive minded midfield already. Rooney will be doing defensive work up the middle too, so there’s little need to keep worrying whether we need to be even more conservative and add Fletcher.

  10. wayne says:

    if park isn’t in the team it would be a mistake and a crime,he works his ass off and has been consistent week in week out,he’ll do a good job of shadowing messi and is always capable of scoring.tony.v,park,carrick and giggs all deserve to start the only way fletch gets included if sir alex plays rooney as loan striker otherwise flectch starts on the bench.

  11. willierednut says:

    denton davey – Thanks for pointing out my point about our bench being strong. Next time you rob one of my suggestions, at least wear a mask. Dick Turpin always wore a mask.

  12. T4M says:

    get ready fletch

  13. parryheid says:

    Main reason for Fletcher not Shining this season is like our mid and front players our out ball man was not available due to a broken ankle and the difference since he came back is astonishing.When Fletcher slots in it will let the team revert the unit of last year.Nani is a quality player but the team simply functions on a different level when he is a left sided back up he is never an out ball man and we are so much better for it.I would have Fabio on the bench as he could come on for Park or Fletcher if required not counting Evra and do a first rate job also be totally unexpected.

  14. Whiteside says:

    Good point Wayne – hope he doesn’t go with Waz as a lone front man though as we don’t carry much threat when we do that.

  15. AlphaRS says:

    MP’s can say what they want in Parliament as anything they say they are immune to prosecution.
    However I think super injuctions are a waste of time. Famous people are always in the news for good and bad reasons. I might come under criticism for saying this but so what? People have affairs up and down the country day in and day out and nobody bats an eyelid. If I was Giggsy I’d be doing the same thing evey day.

  16. indiandevil says:

    Fletcher would make the bench at most along with Ando and Scholes as midfield options. Fergie wont drop either Giggs, Park,Valenica, Rooney or Chich. Come to think of it even Nani would only make the bench and he is player’s player of the year.

    Wembley, Camp Nou, Luzhniki stadium…a look back at Man United’s European past, can Fergie’s men burry the ghost of Rome?

    Guys here’s an article that looks back at our 3 European triumphs:

  17. Yang says:

    Feel for Fletcher. He is on the verge of missing two CL finals. I think even SAF struggle to make decision in this case. Fetcher’s form is not 100% but it may be fine at final match.

  18. bchilds says:

    This game’s come too soon for Fletch, he wasn’t in form pre-illness let anyway! Give him a full pre-season where he can bulk back up and we’ll have the usual Fletch back!

  19. King Eric says:

    Some are saying that Fletch had an average game yesterday. I beg to differ. Wether he was in the middle of midfield or shifted to right back he did a job. Played some fucking good balls as well. Cannot see past Carrick or Giggs though. It was obvious yesterday that when Carrick doesnt play the opposition run through the middle at will. Carrick is fantastic at reading the game and snuffing out any danger.

  20. scan74 says:

    agree that its a bit too soon for fletch fucking heartbreaking really after 09

    still a top man 2 have on the bench which is where i think he will start on saturday

    cant fookin wait for it

    do the business boys

  21. StatesideAussie says:

    King Eric … honestly, mate, I don’t think he’s ready to start. Can see him coming on later, but I am 99% sure Park will start and Carrick has been good in his role recently. I know you probably disagree and I respect that, but I just can’t see it. Before his illness, or if Carrick hadn’t been playing so well, Fletch would have been a shoo-in.

    Some are worried the game might go into extra time. I am not. The longer the game goes, the more Barca will struggle with their fitness. Honestly, they looked worn out, even in the first quarter-final leg when they lost to The Arse, they looked absolutely drained by the last 10 minutes (they also looked flush out of ideas, too). And those matches against the Virus haven’t done them any favors. I know Denton disagrees with me on this, but elite athletes or not, it takes time to fully recover. And I don’t think Barca are used to the frenetic pace of English football anyway. I am not the only one who thinks this, by the way. Wenger may be a prick but he’s not a total fool, and even he thinks Barca look tired. He said it takes more than three weeks to recover from the matches like those against the Virus and he doesn’t reckon they’ve had time. If our lads run the pants off them from the get-go, as I am sure they will, and then keep running them, as I am also sure they will, Barca will be dropping like flies. They’ll be begging for mercy, the bastards — and they won’t get any.

  22. StatesideAussie says:

    King Eric … sorry mate, I didn’t read your post correctly. yes, you did say you think it will be Carrick and Park…

  23. smiliege says:

    I think he’ll start anderson, carrick and giggs in the middle with tony V and Park on the wings and rooney alone up front. Like @statesideaussie said Barca will tire, and having anderson’s energy will help tire them more quickly. If we’re up at 60 minutes he’ll bring on scholes to control the flow of the game. If we’re down at half chich comes on in place of ando, and if it’s all square at half he waits til 60 mins to bring chico on for ando. Anderson has looked good lately and although he wasn’t great in Rome he made his penalty in moscow and knows the pressure of a CL final better than Fletch and Chich. Plus if rumours are true that masch will start in the middle of the defense with Pique and then Puyol on the left, chich’s pace won’t be quite as helpful as we might like if puyol and pique were in the middle.

  24. willierednut says:

    Talking about Barcelona tiring, don’t rule out the pitch being a factor on Saturday. I’m hoping for a slow sticky pitch.

  25. Malcum says:

    i think we will use 4231

    Rafael _ Vidic _ Rio _ Evra
    Fletch/Ando _ Carrick
    Valencia _ J.Park

  26. denton davey says:

    WillieRedNut @ 15:39: “Thanks for pointing out my point about our bench being strong. Next time you rob one of my suggestions, at least wear a mask. Dick Turpin always wore a mask.”

    Sorry to “plagiarize” without acknowledgement.

    Speaking of wearing a mask – I am currently recovering from laser surgery so one eye is actually “masked” some of the time. Usually when I’m reading from the computer screen – the new lens is optimized for distance and it has to be covered when reading; but my old glasses are “multi-curve” so they work for reading. Next month I will have the other eye done and then I should be able to keep both eyes on your messages.

  27. denton davey says:

    StateSideAussie @ 18:49: ” I know Denton disagrees with me on this, but elite athletes or not, it takes time to fully recover.”

    I’m not sure what you are talking about – recovery time for two games in a week or recovery time for two/three weeks since Barcelona’s last significant contest ?

  28. StatesideAussie says:

    Denton — I was referring to an earlier debate that you and I had, where I thought you argued that 3 weeks was adequate. I still disagree (and so does grumpy old Arsene Whinger).

    Barca played four pretty tough matches in, what was it, 18 days from April 16 to May 3, plus 2 other matches during the same period, and have played another four matches since then (actually, five since then, but I’m ignoring the last one where they effectively fielded a reserve team). That’s 10 matches in the 42 days leading up to the final, including 4 that were very tough both physically and mentally. I think they’re tired — I don’t think the three weeks since that last RM match has been enough for them to recover. Especially since they showed signs of tiredness even before that.

    In the same period, we have played 9 matches, which is only one fewer, but only 1 or 2 have been tough and even those probably weren’t as demanding as the four Barca-Real matches. Plus we have almost certainly rotated our players more during those matches, and I think we were fitter to begin with.

    In short, Barca strike me as a team who, at the individual level, are struggling to maintain their fitness and energy. Seriously, even back at the Emirates, they looked totally buggered in the last 10 or 15 minutes — I remember thinking at the time, “They look knackered.” Whereas we look at be at our absolute peak. But I guess we will find out on Saturday! Cheers!

  29. Onside says:

    First of all, Fletcher was involved in all 4 goals we scored against Blackpool. He seemed to have slotted right back in the rhythm.

    Second of all, I still have nightmares about Park, Giggs, and Carrick getting overran in the 2009 final. You can’t compare Barcelona to Chelsea and say “we need to field the same team”. You need to compare the 2009 final to this year’s and think about what went wrong.

    Giggs should not start. He’s been great lately, but he will not run around chasing Barca’s midgets all game long. Fletcher loves nothing more than bringing a giant down. That’s why he is always up for the big games, whereas Giggs and Carrick sometimes tend to fade. Giggs would be a good option to bring in later, when Barca’s defence isn’t as fresh.

    This should be the lineup: VDS; Rafael, Rio, Vidic, Evra; Valencia, Fletcher, Carrick, Nani; Rooney (withdrawn), Hernandez.

    I know Park is industrious, but Fletcher can provide that, while Nani will strike fear into Alves.

  30. Colo says:

    4-5-1 fromation at the backs Van Der Sar of course, Defenders RB Rafael CB Ferdinand CB Vidic LB Evera RW Valencia CM Fletcher CAM Rooney CM Giggs LW Nani and ST Hernandez or Berbatov……..SAF Said so !!!!! 3-1 final scor Man U WIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  31. Marq says:

    Isnt it nice to see Carrick’s the only one in our midfield that everyone seems to agree should start? Wonders where are those who think he is useless? Haha

  32. Lexandre says:

    I suggest SAF play a 4-5-1 formatn Tony wide 2d right and Nani wide 2d left keepin Waza up front then at 2nd half introduce Hernandez 4 Sir Giggs while Waza must hav weaken d defense,then withdraws 4 Hernandez 2 do d damage. This wil help kip d presure of Barca havin 2 much pace and possession in d game. My formatn… VDS1, defense… Fabio2, Rio5, Vida6, Evra3, midfield… Nani, Carrick, Giggs, Park, Valencia. WAZA up front. BELIEVE!!!

  33. willierednut says:

    denton davey – I was joking mate. Dick Turpin never wore a mask lol.

  34. denton davey says:

    StateSideAussie @ 10:45: “I guess we will find out on Saturday! Cheers!”

    I can’t – and won’t – argue about that.

  35. denton davey says:

    Onside @ 6:56: “Giggs should not start. He’s been great lately, but he will not run around chasing Barca’s midgets all game long. ”

    I don’t think that they play a man-for-man marking system any more. It’s more like a “zone defence” in whcih players have assignments – and positions to defend. It’s a group/team game nowadays. So, the idea that Giggs will get tired from “chasing Barca’s midgets all game long” is based on an outdated view of the way the game is played nowadays.

  36. Louis says:

    Here be my 2 cents: exactly the same team. Fletch on the bench.

  37. billybowlegs says:

    And Lineker can fuck off as well the cunt,I hope he chokes on his fuckin` crisps and his elephant sized ears fall off…..what a complete twat he is…


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