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Is Ferguson Right About Fletcher?

Darren FletcherDarren Fletcher was dubbed ‘the new David Beckham’ when playing for United’s youth team. He was spotted by a scout when he was just 11 and impressed Sir Alex Ferguson so much that he was asked to come to United for trials four times a year. Roy Keane was impressed by the lad and tried to use Fletcher’s Irish mother as a means to get him to play for the Republic. Obviously, with Fergie as the gaffer, there was no chance of anyone prising such a promising young talent from the grips of Scotland, for whom Fletcher has now committed himself to.

In the 2003-2004 season, Fletcher was really given his chance to shine, starting 25 games for the club. Some reds were extremely supportive of the United youngster, desperately wanting to see some genuine talent emerge from our youth set up, whilst others were rather disparaging of the young Scot. Come the end of the season, he got his place in the FA Cup final over Nicky Butt and Phil Neville, starting in the centre of midfield alongside Roy Keane. He was also named captain of Scotland at this time, despite being only 20 years old.

The next two seasons really saw Fletcher establish himself in the starting XI, much to the dismay of some reds. With Keano playing fewer and fewer games, and Butt and P Neville moving on, Ferguson failed to find a better player to start for United in midfield, despite attempting to do so with the likes of Djemba Djemba and Kleberson.

Fletcher’s lowest and highest point as an individual at United came within the space of a week. The injured Roy Keane watched on as Fletcher played on the right in United’s humiliating 4-1 defeat by Middlesbrough. In an MUTV interview which was pulled before it was aired, Keane said, “I can’t understand why people in Scotland rave about Darren Fletcher.” Six days later, United faced Chelsea, undefeated in 40 games, who were cruising to a second successive league title. Fletcher was the hero that day, scoring the only goal of the game to reinstate some pride to the club.

Still, support for Fletcher has dwindled over the years, with many feeling Ferguson has given Fletcher more time than he deserves just because of their shared nationality. The signing of Carrick kept Fletcher out of the starting lineup for the most part, as United stomped on to win their first title since 2003. The additions of Hargreaves and Anderson to the squad, who have done nothing but impress so far this season, have left Fletcher with little playing time. When United have no injuries, there’s little chance of him even making the bench, which has been the case on a number of occasions already.

Ferguson has spoken about Fletcher, claiming we need players like him at United. “I feel for Darren Fletcher,” Ferguson said. “I have not been playing him in the last two or three games but he is a fantastic player for United. He never lets us down. He plays well in all the big games. He must be feeling down but I will make sure he gets his opportunities because you need players like him in the squad.”

Would you be sad to see Fletcher sold this summer? Do United still have a need for him?

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. Prasac says:

    United don’t need Fletcher because we now have other mediocrity in Hargreaves

  2. Tom F says:

    Prasac your comment is utter shite.

    Hargreaves is the best holding midfielder we could have asked for and as for Fletcher, we do need him for the day when Hargreaves, Scholes and Carrick are injured. We will never need Darren to come in and start a game but you will also never get somebody with the quality of Scholes sitting on the bench trying to get a game for 2 months. If Fletcher is happy being a lesser part of the squad then there is no reason to sell him on, if it is a problem then maybe we will sell him for his own footballing good.

    Mate, calling Hargreaves mediocre is the funniest thing I have ever read on here, even more amusing than some of the stuff the comes out of the Arsenal fans that pop up on here now and then. I’m baffled.

  3. Prasac says:

    O.K.,everybody has his own opinion but one thing about Owen is he is slowing our game and our team looks without any ideas.I’m pissed off when he trying to dribble or shoot on goal.Carrick is miles better player then him(and that’s only my opinion so don’t be baffled :) ).Cheers

  4. Jag Kuo says:

    Hargreaves has so far been a disappointing buy. He lacks pace, cannot tackle, fail to track back and often mis-pass the ball. Carrick is so much better. Hopes that Hargreaves step up his game, if not, he will just be another “Djemba and Kleberson”.

    Fletcher sucks too. He failed to mark Anton Ferdinand in the West Ham match and also let in a goal in another. He is not good enough to play central midfield. He prob good enough as 2nd back up right back or right midfield

  5. klauq says:

    yeah i find it suprising too, calling hargreaves a mediocrity. IMHO Anderson IS our best midfielder now, i mean it, even better than Scholesy as Scholesy is past his prime now, But Hargreaves is very good, maybe second to Gerrard (hard to deny that, hard to admit either) in the England team.

  6. Prasac says:

    Yes,klauq,you are right about Anderson.This boy,attacking midfielder by vocation,18 yrs old,doesn’t speaks english etc etc,better read the game and is better defensively then player who is England international,experienced,won champions league…In one hand this is very positive (for Anderson) and in other hand is very sad (for Hargreawes)

  7. rohan says:

    its a pity but fletcher is surrounded by so much talent that its obvious he will now these days get extremely rare chances to start..
    ..also about hargreaves..he has been poor especially with those horrible passing in the games he has started..he does tackle well and win balls but he just gives it away just as easily…

  8. denton davey says:

    Fletcher is a squaddie; but what has Hargreaves been so far ? Loads of energy but not much effectiveness. Scholes is still a fine player – no longer a great player and he plays too far back, too. Carrick is something of a mystery since he is so unconvincing when he is called up on to supplenent the attack. Anderson is, quite clearly, the pick of the bunch. So, the plan to overhaul the midfield after Keane left has been something of a mixed result – the two expensive Englishmen are OK; the older Englishman is a declining force; the Scottish Player is marginal; but the young Brazilian has the world at his feet.

    So, I would start Anderson and rotate the others until I discovered the right chemistry.

    Fletcher shouldn’t get into this first-team again unless the match is “a breather”; he’s just not good enough to raise the level of his play and improve the team by his presence.

  9. Tom F says:

    I definately agree with all of the talk about Abderson. I never knew much about him before we signed him as I generally spend all my football time watching United so when we got him I asked a few Porto fans about him and they told me that our fans really do not know what we are getting. It really is a blessing in disguise that Scholsey was injured early on, Anderson has nt put a foot wrong since playing and shows up in all the big games.

    Arsenal do have a talent in Fabregas but we have our very own young midfield talent who like mentioned does have the world at his feet.

    Hargreaves is full of energy and wins almost every tackle he goes for then gets the ball out to the creative players to do a job. It’s all a part of the machine, Hargreaves role is unsung but he is very, very effective at what he does. Only my opinion… ;)

  10. nikelesh says:

    No.We dont need darren flecther.I agree with scott that flecther has been given too much of time already.We”ve got 4 central mid-fielders ahead of Darren.I wouldnt mind seeing him sold in the summer.Im not saying he is a bad player.But,he”s certainly not United class.He might have a good carrear elsewhere.Maybe at a club like everton or aston villa he might do well.Especially at everton.I think david moyes can get the best out of him.United are just a class above him to be very honest.

  11. Aman says:

    I think the criticism of Hargreaves is very unfair – similar to what the England fans dished out to him!! I love United, love the attacking side of their game, but to balance the team out, we need a defensive midfielder and there isn’t one better then Hargreaves out there (maybe Mascherano)! He’s a great replacement for the defensive side of Keano/Butt and allows Anderson/Scholes/Carrick to get the ball and start attacks. In Europe, where it really mattered, Scholes/Carrick couldn’t get the ball off Pirlo, Kaka, Seedorf – the players just mentioned all got the ball back cos of their defensive midfielder – Gattuso! In the context of the teams balance, Hargreaves is V important – but obviously we won’t be needing him to play every game – for example when we play Fulham/Wigan etc – teams who have no creativity. When the good teams are there to play us, we’ll need him there! He’s a defensive, ball-winning midfield, who’s job is to break the oppositions play up and release the ball to our flair players…and Lampard/Gerrard’s achievements in football do not even come close to Hargreaves – he’s won Champions Leagues/german leagues and was Englands best player in the last world cup. but its been too stop start cos of injury – give him time like Vidic and Evra! then we’ll see the best of him – and i think Anderson is amazing, but hopefully he wont suffer from second season syndrome next year!

  12. Salford red says:

    If were honest we don’t really need flech. But he is a product of our youth system, never moans when he is not playing, and is as, far as i know, a credit to the club when he’s of the field. The Hargreaves bashing is puzzling as he generally does on the field what we purchased him for: break up play, get a foot in and provide a physical presence. He’s not a Gatusso, but he was not available. As far as i see he does as much as Mascherano does for the dippers. Agree that Anderson is an amazing talent but for me still second to the ginger ninger when it comes to midfield starting places. He’s just a bit of the pace at the minute. This will only come with games. On an unrelated point i’m sure i speak for many who enjoy this great blog, when i request that the word “sucks” never ever be used
    again regardless of the context. Of course discussing players christmas parties may be a notable exception. Such americanisms, along with traffic lights, that kid from corrie whose mum isn’t that bird from that group and the guy who sits in front of me in the north stand who always stands up and implores the crowd to “get behind the boys” and “f****ng sing” in the most self-righteous way possible, kinda tic me off.

  13. Patricia says:

    Fletcher needs to grow a set and ask to be sold. No one with any pride would settle for being a “squaddie”. I remember Keano saying that he never ever wanted to be sitting on a bench on a cold Wednesday night at Old Trafford. If Fletcher is willing to settle for that, he’s not United material, in my view. He could do well with a team further down the table. Hell, even Sunderland!

  14. Tom F says:

    haha Salford Red, that made me laugh. People that use americanisms do indeed ‘suck’.

  15. KingOfZamunda says:

    Hang on a diddly second- who are you lot trying to kid about Hargreaves being mediocre?? Bunch of ingrates the lot of you, he’s that bite and rough and tough we’ve been misisng in midfield ever since Keano finished with United. Sheesh, talk about the typical United fan, all glory and no substance!! Hargreaves is a key key player for us, no doubt about that. And you lot seem to forget that we lacked exactly this sort of depth with our midfield options in between 2003 and 2007. Fletch is a very useful midfielder, I for one am very glad that we can pop him on for the last 15minutes and be assured of a solid performance. Scholes, Anderson, Hargreaves, Carrick & Fletcher- a very fine midfield for United to deploy.

  16. KingOfZamunda says:

    And Patricia- Ole was a squaddie, you think he should’ve grown a set too, forced a move to Spurs and so on and so forth?? Simpson will be a squaddie for the next season and a half, a talent like him will attract attention and the likelihood of more games somewhere else- should he grow a set too? Apply the same to any of our non-starting eleven and tell yourself off for a ‘mediocre’ post.

  17. Patricia says:

    I consider my hand slapped, King.


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