The Forgotten Man

Following his ongoing battle with a mystery illness, the continued search for a midfielder and the recent emergence of Tom Cleverley, it would be easy for most people to forget about Darren Fletcher.

On the eve of United’s defeat by Liverpool on March 6, the midfielder came down with a temperate and was subsequently named on the bench. He was introduced as an 83rd minute substitute at Anfield but that would be his last appearance before the final league game against Blackpool. Severe weight-loss and a lack of energy has hampered him since that loss at the hands of one of United’s bitter rivals and has now raised question marks over his fitness with the start of the season looming.

The Scotsman has proved many of his critics and even a number of United fans wrong over the last few seasons, becoming one of Sir Alex Ferguson’s main men.

It hasn’t come easy for Darren since his debut as a 19 year old in the Red Devils Champions League draw with FC Basel in 2003. He would progress in the 2003/04 season, starting 17 premier league games and often deployed on the right side of midfield following David Beckham’s move to the Bernabeu. His impressive performances during the season would not go unnoticed as he would become the captain of Scotland at the tender age of 20.

Fletcher’s appearances became less frequent, especially after reportedly coming under extreme criticism from former United captain Roy Keane. A majority of fans shared the Irishman’s views and it wasn’t until 2008 that the footballing world witnessed the best of Darren.

A long-term injury to former United midfielder Owen Hargreaves in September 2008 paved the way for Darren to cement his spot in the first 11 and cement it he did. He would become the man Fergie turned to in the big games for energy and high-work rate. This is something United miss when going head-to-head with the powerhouses of European football.

His no-fuss approach and can-do attitude was sorely missed but will it be enough to reclaim his position in the centre of midfield?

Fergie is keen to topple Barcelona and as a result been linked to a number of technically gifted midfielders. The likes of Sneijder, Nasri and Modric have all been touted as possible signings with Sneijder seen as the most likely of the three to join.

You add Cleverley, Anderson, Carrick, Pogba to the current list of United players and it’s clear to some that Fletcher might have to bide his time on the sidelines however Fletcher still has an important role to play for the club.

Playing ‘beautiful’ football with some technical flair is what everyone loves to see but the balance must be kept in order to achieve results, United do not want to become another Arsenal.

This is where Fletcher takes centre stage, even though it may not be noticed by all. He has the ability to put in the touch tackles, win the 50/50 challenges, buzz around the pitch and play with energy and enthusiasm.

He may not have the technical ability of Carrick or Sneijder but he has heart and a part to play this season!




  1. Nice dig at the Gunners Sacha.

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