It must be nigh on impossible for players to achieve match fitness when they hardly get any game time at the top level.
One player who looks to be seriously struggling in this respect is veteran Scottish international Darren Fletcher. Barring serious injuries in the midfield it seems that he won’t be getting many games at Manchester United from here on in.
While he can do a really important job as one of the elder statesmen of the squad – helping young players get to grips with the pressure of playing for one of the world’s biggest clubs and so on – he doesn’t appear to have the legs to power Manchester United’s midfield these days.
A case in point – he came on for the final few minutes against Stoke in LvG’s plan to steady the ship as The Potters piled forward in search of an equaliser on Tuesday. But, if anything, Fletcher weakened the side further.
The most worrying moment was when Marko Arnautović simply ran straight around him with the ball in the 92nd minute. It wasn’t as if Fletcher had been on the park for long enough to be tired.
He’s a highly regarded member of the Manchester United set up and has fought serious adversity to get his career back on track at the club. We salute him for this.
But, from a ruthless perspective, we think that Louis van Gaal would be well advised to select the 30 year old with great caution in the coming months. He will get the odd start and probably do a decent job.
But with 10 minutes to go Fletcher may not prove to be the safe pair of hands, to shore things up, for too much longer.
Manchester United fans: still a safe pair of hands?