Darren Fletcher has had even some of his harshest critics singing his praises recently, following solid performances last season in the big games, as well as a good start to this campaign.

With three league goals, he’s also United’s top scorer so far, something we wouldn’t have predicted when looking at the wealth of attacking talent we have in our squad.

With Michael Carrick, Paul Scholes and Owen Hargreaves spending much of the season out injured, Fletcher has filled in competently in midfield. However, Sir Alex Ferguson has today admitted that with plenty of clubs trying to buy him in the summer, he was worried his fellow Scot would make the same mistake as Nicky Butt and Phil Neville, and move on for more first team football.

“The relief of the season was to get Darren a new contract because there were a lot of clubs trying to buy him,” said Ferguson. “He had one year left but he wanted more football. Leaving could easily have been a consideration simply because with Hargreaves, Carrick, Scholes and Anderson there is so much competition.”

At the beginning of October, Fletcher signed a new 4-year-deal, citing the ‘amazing spirit’ at the club as a reason for staying on, much to Fergie’s relief.

“I just felt Darren is a United player,” Ferguson added. “He is outstanding in big games, when he always does such a great job. I told him he had been brought up at this club and after January, he had been playing in all the big games until he got an injury and not to forget he came back and played some more. It convinced him to stay, which was what we wanted because now he is such an important player for us. He has developed his game and taken it to a new level.”