Darren Fletcher has today given an interesting insight to his big decision over the summer and his plans for the future.
“It was a difficult summer,” confessed Fletcher. “I had a lot to think about in terms of what teams were interested and what I wanted to do about my future. My main goal was always to stay at United. I had that ambition first and foremost but at the same time, I didn’t want to tie myself into a long contract if I was only going to be playing for 10 games a season. I didn’t want to see that as my future. I am not a youngster anymore. That is all right when you are 18 or 19. It’s okay picking up games then and getting experience but at my age now I really needed to be playing the majority of games.”
Fletcher acknowledges that the boss, who has played a massive part in Darren’s career, spoke to convince him.
“The manager and me spoke about it. I only had a year left on my contract so I had a big decision to make,” he added. “The boss assured me I was needed and I was a vital asset and there were different qualities I could bring to the midfield. Of course, there wasn’t a guarantee that I would definitely play more matches. He cannot guarantee you that, but I just thought I’d give it another go. I believe I can do it and that is my attitude. It was a good decision.”
Fletcher knows that some people would think he was stupid for considering leaving United but he is quick to stress that it is his desire to play football that made him doubt his future with the club.
“People might say you are silly and that if United are offering you a contract why are you thinking about going,” he continued. “People were telling me I’d be stupid to go, but I am a footballer and I want to play. So I had to make a decision that was right for me and my family. I didn’t want to be going home to my girlfriend in a bad mood because I hadn’t been playing. You have to sit down and think about your future sometimes. Although it is great to be at United and winning things you also want to feel as though you have done something and played a big part in achieving that success. You don’t want to just go along for the ride and scraping enough games together to get a medal. But it is hard to let go at United.”
Fletcher has developed a reputation as a ‘big-game player’, with his usually performing well against the top sides. Most recently, alongside Ryan Giggs, Fletcher outplayed the Chelsea midfield that consisted of Frank Lampard, Michael Ballack and John Obi Mikel.
“I’d rather be known as someone who can play in the big games than someone who can’t,” he said. “But there is a pressure situation building up now because people are taking it for granted that I am going to play well in the big occasions. However, I love it really. The big occasions were one of the reasons I found it so hard to leave last summer. That is why I wanted to come to United in the first place because I used to sit and watch the big Champions League matches on TV and the big Premier League games and wanted to be there. I don’t mind if we are playing against the best in the world I want to challenge myself against those players. I love every minute of them.”
Fletcher has confessed that it is his self-belief that eventually convinced him to sign, believing that if he improved, he could fight for a place in the first team.
“I still had a lot of belief in myself so eventually I signed on again,” Fletcher said. “I felt I had to add something to my game. I realised that going out and doing okay wasn’t good enough. You have to have something else to your game, something extra to give yourself every advantage over others. This is the top and it doesn’t get much bigger than this. Leaving is out of my head now. I went through that process, but my full focus is now on Manchester United.”
Having missed out on the action in United’s European Cup final against Chelsea last May, the biggest game of them all, Fletcher says his next target with the club is to play in the final.
“I didn’t expect to play to be honest because I had had a knee injury and was actually supposed to be out for the rest of the season,” Fletcher said. “The prognosis was I’d be out for eight weeks, which took me into the summer break, but I came back after four. Just to be there and in my kit was an achievement really. But that is another thing I have got to achieve. I want to play in a Champions League final. I have got a medal because I was sub, but it is another thing I have in my head that I want to achieve and there is no better place to do it than at United. We are at the business end of the season now with so much ahead of us.”
“I couldn’t have got this anywhere else.”