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Fletch: We Are Under No Illusions

Ahead of tomorrow night’s crucial Champions League against Basel, Darren Fletcher has insisted that the players are fully prepared because they know what is at stake. In 2005, United failed to qualify from the group and thankfully were saved from having the compete in the UEFA Cup.

“It doesn’t get much bigger than this,” said Fletcher. “This club needs to qualify for the Champions League, so we know we have to get a positive result. They are going to come at us because they have to win the game and we’re fully aware of that. We are under no illusions as to what we have to do. We need a positive result and we’ll be going to win the game because you never know what Benfica will do in the other game. We fully expect them to win, but you never know, so it’s important we win the match. If we do that we might get a little favour with Benfica not winning, in which case we win the group. But if not, we will finish second – the most important thing now is getting through. You want to be through by this stage and you want to be in pole position to win the group. Unfortunately, we are not in that position and so you look back to the two home draws with Basel and Benfica. If you don’t win your home games in the Champions League then it’s never going to be as easy as you’d like.”

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. Stenis says:

    Good thing he seems to fully realise they’ve put themselves in this shoddy position. Hopefully we can dig ourselves out of it by the end of tomorrow night. Such an “easy” group compated to most others… It should never have come to this. Not winning against Basle at home cost us alot of security.

  2. brigadierdavies says:

    Come On Reds, I can’t wait for the match, I know you boys can do it. BELIEVE.

  3. Giles Oakley says:

    Good to have Darren Fletcher getting somewhere close to full fitness again, he’s such a great ‘big match’ player, the one you’d want beside you in the trenches when the mud and bullets are flying. I’d like to see him pushed further forward as he’s an under-rated creative player, as shown when he’s playing for Scotland. I know he’s one of our best defensive midfielders (not that much competition) but he’s also adept at the crafted through ball and the swinging right-wing cross, and we are very short of creatives right now. We’re going to need Rooney up front, so Fletch tucked in behind would be a master stroke, ranging across the pitch behind the front line.

    Remember, you heard it here first…

  4. CedarsDevil says:

    If Giles says it is than I blindly follow! I heard it here first indeed!

  5. ricky says:

    hope we get barca next round so we can knock them out.

  6. Ancha says:

    Giles Oakley, Cedars

    how are you guys :-)

    thanks to sir Giles for pointing at the very under rated creative side of Darren Fletcher, me along with few other regulars like KE, Denton always try to put that up whenever Fletch news comes over here, but yet many fans seems to stop thinking at the point where they say, “he is capable in the final third but his major strength is break up of play, getting in the opposition faces ….”, I would say he is equally good at both defense & offense

  7. CedarsDevil says:


    Great to see you here….. I believe Sir Giles pretty much summed up Fletch for us and I for one agree, to the bone may I add!

  8. Ancha says:

    rioferdy5 @ tomclevz23 hahaha… can
    you beat Nani yet?! He has the self
    belief of a 1000 men on the table.. gets
    too emotional though to be a

  9. Giles Oakley says:

    Thanks Ancha, and be careful Cedars, we could be into a blind leading the blind situation , or at least the very short sighted. Also, I’m not sure I am the first to point out Fletch’s creative side – bit of poetic licence there perhaps.

    Can’t wait for tomorrow night. Trouble is, I’m hoping for too much, United in, City out. As James Brown would say, Please please please…

  10. denton davey says:

    DarrenFletcherinho’s scripted cliches are, no doubt, well-meaning and even heartfelt but they’re also blindingly-obvious. OF COURSE, TheLads need to come up big – they’ve been pretty woeful in the CL so far this season.

    Considering TheLads’ exalted recent history of success in this competition – and the relative weakness of the opposition in their group – failure-to-qualify would be nothing short of disastrous. And, of course (again), UTD can go through with a draw so it’s not exactly MissionImpossible. So, I expect the NewModelCautiousSAF to play a three-man midfied with Michael Carrick, DarrenFletcherinho and ThreeLungPark (or maybe Phil Jones !) behind some configuration of Nani, DannyTheLad, and TheWayneBoy. The defence should be secure with a back five of De Gea, Smalling, Vidic, Rio, and Patrice Evra. Surely-to-goodness, THAT should be enough !

  11. JonyB says:

    Yes you are Fletch…. You seem to think you’re good enough to play for our great side…….. but WE SHOULD be good enough to win this game….. If we don’t YOU fletch and several of your team-mates should be looking for new clubs at the end of the season!!!!

  12. smartalex says:

    JonyB – You go on ahead, find a nice club, don’t wait for Fletch and his United team mates.

    Bye now.

  13. Giles Oakley says:

    Good selection Denton Davey, except Carrick is banned unfortunately. You’re right, we really should have no problem with this tie with all our experience, but that was true in all the earlier matches too. I don’t think it helps chopping and changing the team so much from match to match, which often ends up with several players lining up in a formation and with players they’ve never played with before, as with the Palace debacle.

  14. LoneStarRed says:

    A win is a must. Fletch’s play is improving as well. With all the injuries, we have quite a task in front of us. But that is what makes Champions. We are more than up to it. The lads must believe in themselves and trust their instincts. As I’ve said before this was always going to be a transition year. We are in a rebuilding phase and this is a stern test for all. How ever it turns out will be invaluable experience which we will build upon.

  15. bobkoh says:

    Will it be a nervy match after we get 2 goals in like last time? A clean sheet will do though.

  16. Fred says:

    THIS is how I think we will line up:

    ……………..De Gea

  17. denton davey says:

    Giles Oakley @ 16:06: “Carrick is banned”

    My mistake – a three-man midfield with DarrenFletcherinho, PhilJones, and ThreeLungPark will have to make-do.

  18. smartalex says:

    Fuck you Fred and Willierednut! Damn it. Bugger off!

  19. smartalex says:

    You have been booched! Here’s a smooch to make it all better. Mwah!

  20. Fred says:

    That was no booching. 8)

  21. smartalex says:


  22. WillieRedNut says:


  23. Stenis says:

    Giles Oakly: I thorougly agree with you on Fletcher, he has a creative mind and can pick an opening pass. My concern is his technique and ball-control, it has to be very good in such a position. I do, however, enjoy when he pushes forward from deep or breaks off on the over-lap to the right. He has a very good cross on him and we’ve produced a handful of goals from them.

  24. Giles Oakley says:

    Hi Stenis, I think you’re right about his technique being his weakness, and about his strengths. Where I think a slightly more advanced role might work is in his pressing game, defending from the front, forcing errors, creating the time and space for him to angle those balls through the opposition defence. We don’t seem to do that any more, passing endlessly across the pitch, to and fro, to and fro, in a pale imitation of Barca, without the pressing element which makes Barca so lethal. Our build-up is too slow, and allows defences to regain their shape. At times v Newcastle and also Villa we did seem to attack more speedily and with more directness, so I hope as confidence returns post the 1-6 the attacking flair will be back on show.


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