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Moyes: Fletcher looked like he had never been away

Darren Fletcher was greeted fondly by the travelling Manchester United fans at Villa Park this afternoon when he came on to the pitch to warm up at half-time. “There’s only one Darren Fletcher!” the crowd sang on repeat, and “Darren Fletcher, football genius!” which he applauded in response.

He came on to replace Giggs with 70 minutes played, his first football since Boxing Day 2012, and David Moyes reckons the midfielder looked like he had never been out of the team.

“To people who do have illnesses, it says to keep going and believing, and Darren has done that,” said Moyes. “I thought when he came on it looked like he had never been away. I was really impressed because we are not sure where he is. He has had a few reserve games and has been training, and you can never tell until he gets into the senior games. I don’t want to put pressure on him and say that is Darren Fletcher back because you just never know.”

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. BloodRedManc says:

    I cried a little. Welcome back Fletch, you’ve been missed.

  2. TopRed123 says:

    The chant “there’s only one [insert player's name here]” has to be the worst and most pointless chant out there. Of course there’s only one bloody Darren Fletcher (in this instance). Just as there’s only one Curtis Davies, one Matt Jarvis, one Kevin Davies. It is a shit chant.

    Glad that Fletcher is back. Won’t expect anything even remotely resembling the 08-09 season, but I’m happy for him that he at least has got the illness under control.

  3. Gazzer says:

    Well that was a nice christmas present for everybody, especially for him.
    He looked sharp and purposeful too. Hopefully it might rub off on some of the others

  4. wayne barker says:

    His perseverance and desire should be a inspiration to everyone,if Fletch is confident the illness is sorted Utd get back a quality player
    The chant is about quality over and above that separates him from everyone else it’s a show of respect

  5. WilliamAR says:

    I think Fletch made more forward passes in his 20 odd minutes than fellaini has made all season. Very happy to see him on the pitch in a United shirt again.

  6. NBI Red 21 says:

    The hell this guy Mr Fletcher has been through for 3 years is beyond anyones understanding. He looked like he’d been ill when he was standing at the sideline and I was wondering is it fair to throw him on, what if his health is affected,but then he came on and you could see that fit he would walk into our first team. The hesitation in our other MF was not there, as @ WilliamAR noted he looked to play forward passes, he was neat and calm.

    It makes you wonder what the last 3 years would have been like if he had been fit in MF.

    I am really hoping he is OK and he can not play regularly. It is awful what happened to him. His mental strength in coming back is key and the fact he could still play at this level I hope gave him something to fight for.

    I am not going to get my hopes up that he can play regularly but my best wishes are with him.

    Nani dad to a son. Fletcher back. Welbeck & Cleverly scoring. Winning at our favourite whipping boys. That has to be a nice day for a United fan.

    AVB under pressure, his high defensive line backfired and they were thrashed the way City thrashed them.

    Please let us somehow get above Newcastle and Spurs and then lets see, but we cannot afford these kind of starts.

  7. Fletch™ says:

    Fair to say that the game was in the bag, But credit to Moyes for putting Darren on for 20 minutes.
    Could pay dividends in a long season. Said that getting 10 matches out of Darren would be a plus for the team this year and I think I will stick to that.

    Well done all around. You need these games against struggling sides to go your way so that you can test out some of your fringe players. Credit to all the lads for taking their chances.

    Off topic:
    Sir Alex Ferguson will recieve a special Diamond Award at Sunday’s BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards

  8. NBI Red 21 says:

    Should be the Iron Award!

  9. united till i die says:

    Good to see Fletcher back In the team. Hopefully he can build on this 20 minutes and get a full 45 in the next 2-3 matches. Even if he’s only available for one game a week his experience is invaluable.

    Anyone else think its weird Kagwa hasn’t recovered from allegedly eating too much 10+ days ago? Could this be a ploy to keep him injury free for the Jan transfer window.

  10. NBI Red 21 says:

    I don’t quite buy that story. A professional athlete needs his stomach pumped because he ate too much and felt like he could not breathe? I am sorry, sounds like a load of bullshit. Asked my cousin who is a doctor and he said it didn’t seem believable and could in no way be the whole story, obviously as his neighbours knew ambulance came the press knew something happened and so the Club needed to have an explanation. It just sounds like a load of bullshit. He ate so much he could not breathe and had to have his stomach pumped? WTF?

    Kagawa may have developed some kind of breathing problem list asthma or allergies.

  11. NBI Red 21 says:

    Also stomach – trachea and oesophagus are not connected in the sense that a full stomach blocks your trachea. There must be more to this.

  12. Sparkz says:

    I remember when Fletch first had this illness – we spent almost a year passing it off as a virus. Might be something similar with Kagawa, some sort of allergy or more serious illness.

  13. Dela says:

    Hmm.. Quiet in here.. United must have won..

  14. RepeatOf99 says:

    Great win today and Fletcher coming on was the icing on the cake!

    WilliamAR is absolutely right. He looked more composed and more of a threat in 20 mins than most of our midfield over the last few years. Let’s just hope that we don’t get overexcited and overuse him before he is ready. As much as we would all dream of a fit and fighting Fletcher back in our team regularly, it’s much more important for the guy to take care of himself and his health.

    Still, only positives to take from today. An injury-ridden team really stepped up and lots of big performances from players. Here’s hoping that this can help get our confidence up, and over the next few weeks we can start to claw our way back up the table!

  15. Andrew.MUNZ says:

    yes you never know.

    when Fletch had the illness everyone was wishing him well but we all knew how serious it was and we feared he’d never return.

    look now.

    this man encompasses the Manchester United spirit.
    we will never fucking give up even when it all seems bleak.

  16. NBI Red 21 says:

    We create 10 chances today. All from RW.

    Fletch is one of the few players we have who can carry the ball forward in MF and build attacks, he was also popping in a goal or two so could help us create more in the middle. Did Fletcher have the op to remove that part of his intestine for a permanent cure or has he got the condition in remission?

    There were reports Evra was injured, did not quite look himself on the pitch today. At one point it looked like he was going to fist that Villa player.

    Kags out, I assume he must have been at the pies earlier.

  17. NBI Red 21 says:

    Moyes “I don’t think there was an awful lot of difference except obviously we scored the goals,” said Moyes. “The fact we’ve not been scoring goals changes the way the games have looked, mainly for the media it changes how it looks. But we know we have to play better as well, and we have to play better than we did today again. It continually has to improve and it will improve, and I’ll make sure it gets better in the coming month.”

    I thought we passed forward more and passed along the ground more and our play was faster and we pressed more , also someone was available to collect the ball from defence so there were less long balls and Rooney in MF made a big difference. Fletch may have helped skew the forward pass stat but I did think there were some significant differences. Against Newcastle and Everton we barely created a chance. This was 10 chances. All from the right but at least we are creating them again. Their LB must be sick of Valencia.

    Papers reporting – Ando, Bebe, Fabio, Young for sale. Evra Rio no new contract. Also reporting Moyes saying money was available over summer and they were close to signing a big player but he decided not to come to United and it was not a money issue. I assume this is Fabregas? I find it hard to believe reports we made a £100mn bid for Bale. He is great but not £100mn great. Would rather if we had that money it was spent on MF and more player, new LW.

  18. Marvin Felix says:

    Darren Fletcher was actually the new player David Moyes paid £23,000,000.00 plus £4 million more

  19. sir matt martin says:

    Guys Rewind to the 2011/12 season. Ignoring the fact that we didn’t win the league, Rafael and Valencia’s partnership was the backbone to our title chase. Alongside each other, they tore up Premier League defences because of their telepathic nature together. They knew when the other was heading for overlap or cutting inside for the pass without having to look. It was a partnership that greatly contributed to Valencia being named Players’ Player of the Year, Player of the Year and earning the Goal of the Season accolade. Against Villa, that partnership returned with a vengeance.

  20. Fletch™ says:


    Gripping stuff, Must watch: Sir Alex special award from the BBC

  21. gra mar says:

    Great to see Fletch back. if nothing else hopefully it will serve as a kick up the arse to the other midfielders that they need to bo better.

    I don’t know how Anderson must be feeling. Fletch is back after almost two years out and gets on ahead of him. I know the reasons but still I surely Anderson will be leaving in either the January window or next summer.

    Jones was very good at CB and that’s where he should be. He should be bedded in there as Rio and even Vidic might not be around next season.

  22. Mark Reid says:

    Fletch thanks for sharing the diamond award footage enjoyed that.

  23. samuel - united WE stand says:

    I heard moyes is planning to promote charni enkagamene to the first team. Stoke away in the league cup will be tough but ideal I suppose to bring him in. Good player. Defensively aware, mobile and energetic.. Would,be interesting to see how he steps up another level.

    Good to see nick powell progressing even more at wigan. I’ve always said it, he has attributes to be an all round central.mid. He’s still developing but he is physically imposing, mobile, very good aerially, runs with the ball well and a goal threat, has a fantastic shot on him.. Just generally technically gifted, I mean look at his latest goal, that overhead kick strike vs bolton. Question now to.moyes is, will he send nick to the premier league and increase his experience? What club would be ideal as he needs to be playing regularly and at a club that plays the right way. Powell has all the qualities needed at united, I think when he returns, he will push on and be a regular, I think he has more chance of developing as a dominant central midfielder for united.

    Rafael at right back. Makes a difference and brings balance have players in their rightful position. Rafael is the epitome of the modern fullback. He’s come on leaps and bounds, seemingly developing into a complete fullback. Galloping forward to join the attack and then halting opposition’s attack. He combines flair and real drive.

    Danny welbeck put in an all round performance as good as you will get from a top centreforward. He has the technical ability and the strenghth, his imagination has never been in doubt, he improvises more than.most, the backheel flick ro combine with valencia is just one of many examples but he needs to add more composure to his game and be ruthless in the box. Playing out wide isn’t his game, he needs to be up top and hopefully he will kick on now

  24. united till i die says:

    18 months ago I was saying Raphael was a liability at right back because he was always getting caught out of position but his game has developed over the last year to the point were he’s probably our most consistent defender. I honestly thought his Utd career was over after the European match were he stood and watched our keeper fumble a shot and allowed the other teams forward sneak in behind him to score. He’s combines so well with Valencia to the point when one of them doesn’t play the others performance drops. What Raphael might lack in height the kid makes up for in heart and he’s not afraid of getting stuck in. Between Raphael, jones, Smalling, Evans and De Gea we gave the nucleus of our back line for the next decade.

  25. Blacksocks says:

    That was much more like it from Danny, not just the goals (which were great) but the all round performance. He was constantly snapping at the heels of the Villa defenders, pressing them into passing sloppy balls that the United midfield were often able to intercept. He was in their faces, giving them some chat as well and in a strange way his performace reminded me of what Mark ‘Sparky’ Hughes used to do week in week out for United back in the day.


    I caught the second half of Sevilla v Athletic Bilbao (beat watching X-factor!) last night and was interested to get my first look at Ander Herrera – the player often linked with a move to United.

    Bilbao were the dominant team despite playing away and probably should have won (it finished 1-1) and Herera played as the most forward of a three man midfield. Tidy in his distribution and with a very good first touch he was able to find space in what was clearly a packed midfield. That said, I didn’t see much in the way of dribbling ability or killer balls unlocking the Sevilla defence. Would I rate him at £30M? He wasn’t the stand out player so based purely on the 45 mins I watched, I wouldn’t say he is the answer to United’s midfield problems.

    Two Bilbao players stood out for me – 21 year old Iker Munian the left winger is quick and always looking to take the full back on and beat him often. Despite only being 5ft7″, he is stronger than he looked and was raely forced off the ball. Just needs to improve his crossing but looks a real talent to me although he’s quite well known already to those of us who remember Bilboa from the UEFA cup a couple of years back.

    The second was the young French basque defender Aymeric Laporte – despite only being 19 years old he looks a class act. Reminds me very much of a young Rio Ferdinand, able to play the ball out from the back with confidence, tall and strong in the tackle. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him playing for France before too long.

  26. Mark Reid says:

    Welcome back Darren

  27. Fletch™ says:

    Great list!

    Think you need a goal like John O’Shea v Liverpool. The real take the p*ss type of goals that shows the true spirit of the every man

    Fully agree that there are other Ronaldo goals to consider. But leaving us makes me feel less inclined to treasure them overmuch.

    For me, one needs to give special attention to “important” goals, but admit that might require a rather different kind of list. :
    Paul Scholes 2006 Champions League SemiFinal Replay vs Barcelona

  28. Fletch™ says:

    Sorry, meant to post this instead.

    Rafael “It was a special moment for everyone and for Fletcher … everyone needs a player like him”

    Rafael with some very warm words for his favorite Brazilian…… Fletcharinho! Football Genius ;)

  29. samuel - united WE stand says:

    Blacksocks – united need a central midfielder. Herrera has never been a dribbler anyway, he is more a passing spanish midfielder.. I think he is better deeper anyway. People said the same about kevin strootman, he’s not worth this and that but look at him roma. I don’t think you should be looking for an “answer” or a “saviour” for united’s central mid, you need to look at bringing in several solutions. Ander herrera can come in along with a coupe of quality central midfielders

  30. samuel - united WE stand says:

    To stay on loan at wigan or move onto the premier league on loan for nick.. 7 goals for wigan, really kicking on now.. ki

  31. sir matt martin says:

    If we are lookin for a winger to replace ashly young. I would gladly go with Iker Munian; with lot of composure on the movin the ball with pace, and have a better drinblin skill.

  32. Blacksocks says:

    At SamUWE

    My main point is that from the 45mins I saw, Ander Herrera did not strike me as world class midfielder worth 30M. United need a central midfielder who can raise the tempo of their game and provide an ability to unlock defences by a combination of dribbling/clever passing. Something none of our current crop of central midfielders seem to possess. I didn’t see enough from Herrera from the very short time I watched to warrant spending 30M on him.

    Strootman would have been a great signing but for whatever reason we didn’t go for him and I think it’s very unlikely he’ll be moving from Roma just a few months after signing for them.

    I think a full season on loan for Nick Powell is probably best for him. he is getting plenty of game time and this should continue. Possibly a season on loan in the PL next for him and then he might be ready for the United first team.

  33. Blacksocks says:

    Munian Was Bilbaos best player last night, would be a massive improvement on Ashley Young. Very strong too for a player small in stature. Would be a sucess in the PL no doubt but I dread to think what he would cost.

    Just hearing Spurs have sacked AVB!!!

  34. NBI Red 21 says:

    Wow. AVB sacked. Thought he was doing OK and he had a lot of new players bought last day to integrate – not seen official confirmation –

  35. Blacksocks says:

    Also its Champions League last 16

    Olympiakos V Manchester United

  36. NBI Red 21 says:

    Lucky draw. One of the easiest. Good chance of getting through.

  37. Blacksocks says:

    CL Draw

    Man City v Barcelona
    Olympiakos v MAN UNITED
    Milan v Athletico Madrid
    Bayer L v PSG
    Galatasaray v Chelsea
    Schalke v Real Madrid
    Zenit St Petersburg v Borrusia Dortmind
    Arsenal v Bayern Munich

    Good draw for United although not to be underestimated, Olympiakos should be beaten and then bring one of Europes big teams in the last eight.

  38. sir matt martin says:

    Mancity vs Bacelona
    Olypiacos vs Manutd
    Ac milan vs Atlitic madrid
    Leverkusen vs PSG
    Galatasaray vs Chelsea
    Schalke vs Real madrid
    Zenit vs Dortmund
    Arsenal vs Banyer muchen

  39. NBI Red 21 says:

    city v barca
    arsenal v bayern
    galatasray v chelsea

    2 killer games there. Arse cant beat bayern. City may beat Barca.

  40. sir matt martin says:

    I told evry one on here united is gonna drw Olypiakos.

  41. sir matt martin says:

    So sory for City rite now.

  42. Blacksocks says:

    Good draw for United no doubt about it. Chelsea will feel confident too although Galatasaray at home are a difficult proposition. Arsenal have a tough task and I expect them to go out. City against Barca, might all depend on the fitness of Messi. A fully fit Messi might just be enough to make the difference, we’ll see.

  43. Tommy says:

    Fletch had a good 20 mins against Villa, Hopefully he will get some more action on wedensday, one step at a time, Shame for AVB really, players were brought in without his say so, Capellos favourite because his mate is the director of football and basically bought the players

  44. NBI Red 21 says:

    I have a Phelan someone may get the West Brom job.


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