Darren Fletcher is a player United fans have scoffed at over the past few seasons, with the majority believing he is not good enough for our club and has kept his place for longer than he deserves primarily because of his shared nationality with the gaffer. As a youngster, he was tipped to be “the next David Beckham”, but like most players predicted to fill the boots of a great player, has failed miserably in this task.
The season before last, when United only had the League Cup to console us for yet another titleless season, Fletcher was poor. He was even worse the season before. Despite Michael Carrick not being top of our most wanted list in the summer preceding our last title, he was clearly a more sufficient central midfielder than Fletcher, and made the difference to our team.
The additions of Owen Hargreaves and Anderson appeared to signal the end of Fletcher’s United career, with Ferguson already having a tough enough task to pick two central midfielders from the array of talent we now have on offer.
In January, Fletcher was asked about his position within the club. “Fair play to Anderson. When Paul Scholes got injured, he came in and has been great. The manager has stuck by him, which is what he does when you perform well,” he said. “We will see how things pan out at the end of the season in terms of games played and what I have contributed to the squad. But I’m not thinking about that just now. I’m looking short term, and I’d like to win a few trophies. My only focus is on being ready when the manager needs me.”
Fletcher has started just 9 of our 39 games in the league, Champions League and FA Cup this season, losing out on his place to our four other quality midfielders. We have won 7 of those, drawn 1 and lost 1. We’ve scored 26 goals in those games, conceding 7. In his last three games against Lyon, Newcastle and Arsenal he’s played a blinder, one of if not our best player on the park in each outing. He had Fabregas in his back pocket against Arsenal and tamed Nicky Butt and Joey Barton when playing Newcastle.
Sir Alex Ferguson has today spoken of his praise for Fletcher, claiming he is a true professional. “Darren has shown he is a true professional,” he said. “When you give people good contracts you hope they will become like that. He is a terrific example of a professional to any young player. I keep talking about Bobby Charlton’s book, and his frustration when he was not in the team at 19 and had to be patient. Darren Fletcher epitomises that patience and now he’s back in the squad and everyone recognises his abilities. It’s a great credit to the lad.”
Fletcher turned 24 in February, which when compared to players like Rooney, Ronaldo, Fabregas and Anderson, to name a few, leaves Fletcher behind in terms of development. However, in the grand scheme of things, has years ahead of him in his playing career.
I’ll hold my hands up, I’ve certainly given Fletcher more than his fair share of slatings over the years, and I haven’t changed my mind based on his brilliant displays over the past few weeks. But his new found form certainly gives the Fletcher fans a case to argue that maybe the best of the Scottish midfielder is on its way.
Do you think you have been wrong about Fletcher?