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Get Well Soon Fletch

This week Darren Fletcher announced he would be taking an indefinite break from football to take care of his health issues shocking the football world. While many were made to believe that Fletcher was suffering from a long term virus it was in fact a case of on-going ulcerative colitis.

It came as a shock but it made a whole lot of sense for his lengthy absence and his loss of weight in that time culminated with performances that were a shadow of the high standard he set.

The loss of Fletcher has dented Manchester United’s central midfield even more so. He was by no means anywhere near what he was capable of but was still a decent squad player to have. 

Fletcher’s best season came in the 2008/9 season. He was deployed as a defensive midfielder filling in for the injury plagued Owen Hargreaves and did it to immediate effect. He chased midfielders, chipped at their heels and always got stuck in. In many ways he was a terror for the opposition. 

Such was Fletchers form that season that the 2009 Champions League loss to Barcelona was blamed on his absence. Many sections of fans believed he could of made a huge difference that night. Sadly in the three Champions League finals Manchester United made in the past 5 years Fletcher had the misfortune of not playing in any of them.

Darren Fletcher is the epitome of what Manchester United represents, having been with the club since he was 11 and rising through the ranks to the first team. He encapsulated the never say die and gritty attitude that the club has having played in a number of Sir Alex Ferguson’s sides and was always a big game player.

In 2005 when Manchester United captain and club legend launched a scathing attack on the team and on players that weren’t pulling their weight Fletcher didn’t escape his wrath.

Keane said of Fletcher :

‘’I can’t understand why people in Scotland rave about Darren Fletcher.’’

In response Darren Fletcher put in some sturdy and impressive performances ultimately proving Keane wrong although I’m not sure Roy would agree. Fletcher himself has even thanked Keane and said he helped him along the way to bettering himself as a player.

Roy himself has since stated:

‘’If you listen to any of my comments over the last two or three years, if I’ve given any player credit over the years it would be Fletch. Fletch will tell you that himself.”

Fletcher’s debut for Manchester United came way back in 2003 in the Champions League against Basel.  Three years before schedule he was expected to. He then went from strength to strength in the first team. Sir Alex was always a big fan of the Scot and he always repaid him.

Always the reliable player Fletcher could play central midfield, right midfield and he even filled in at right back if needed. Initially Fletcher was seen as the replacement for David Beckham on United’s right flank but was deployed in the centre of midfield for his sheer tenacity and work rate for the time. Although Fletcher’s crossing ability was very much underrated. His crosses for Wayne Rooney and Paul Scholes goals in the San Siro in 2009 are proof of his crossing ability.

For me my first and most memorable moment of Fletcher in a United shirt came to be his winner in the huge game against Chelsea at Old Trafford in November 2005. His header that was meant to go across goal looped over the huge figure of Petr Cech in the Chelsea goal and eluded John Terry on the line.

While Fletcher may not have been loved by every United fan his attitude and commitment should never of been doubted. His love for United was to never be doubted. He worked hard up through the ranks to be a first team regular and one of Sir Alex Fergusons most reliable and big game players.

Darren Fletcher’s Manchester United honours currently are 4 Premier League titles, a Champions League medal, an F.A Cup, a Club World Cup and two League Cups. Not a bad resumé at all.

Hopefully we may see Darren Fletcher return for United in the 2012/13 season. Thank you Fletch!

Oh and that goal versus Manchester City wasn’t a bad sign off either…

Oh and there’s the Europa League too…

Darren Hickey @DHick92

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