Darren Fletcher has clearly fought tremendously hard over the last twelve months in order to prolong his career. After being diagnosed last year with ulcerative colitis many wondered whether he had a future in the game. Indeed, lesser human beings may well have thrown in the towel.
For his resilience, fighting spirit and professionalism Fletcher should be commended. But does the Scotland international have a future at Manchester United beyond this season? Even before the unfortunate illness, Fletcher’s detractors were of the opinion that his inordinate work rate wasn’t enough to compensate for the other shortcomings in his game. Whilst fairly solid, Manchester United could rarely look to Fletcher to set a decent tempo in midfield. Instead the team regularly looked laboured and sluggish with him in it – the passing neither crisp, speedy or creative enough to give his side an edge.
In short, Darren Fletcher is and always will be more about graft than craft. Of course, any successful team needs a balance between artists and water carriers. But does Fletcher bring enough to the party to be considered for a squad berth, let alone a place in the Manchester United team?
Tom Cleverley is starting to impress for club and country, offering vision and creativity, aswell as the requisite speed and energy in midfield. Micheal Carrick is currently playing with great authority and his place in the team has never been more certain. Paul Scholes can still change games and will play a big part again this year. Ryan Giggs’ light may be dimming slightly but he still won’t let you down in a cameo role. Then there is Anderson, who still frustrates, but retains the ability to cement a first eleven spot. Kagawa and Rooney have also played in the midfield at times this season. All of the aforementioned fit into Fergie’s template for the new Manchester United. They all love one touch football and moving the ball quickly to unseat defenders. Fletcher just isn’t nippy enough to easily fit this style.
Alex Ferguson has always retained a soft spot for his countryman but the brave Scotsman may find that, if he wants more than a bit part role in the medium term, he may well have to move on.
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