How important is Darren Fletcher to Manchester United?

Darren Fletcher made his return for Manchester United against Newcastle United in the Capital One Cup so will his return help the club win trophies this season.

Obviously he has only played one game so it is too early to see whether he will be able to play on a regular basis but it is a good sign that he was back on the pitch. Fletcher has been a vital part of the United side for a number of years now and has almost always been an automatic choice for the big games in Europe and Premier League. But why is he so important? I am going to compare the Scotland international with some of the other options Alex Ferguson has.

His rivals for the central midfielder spot are Shinji Kagawa, Michael Carrick, Paul Scholes, Anderson and Tom Cleverley. Nick Powell, could also be considered in the central role but he won’t be starting many games and will be utilised a lot from the bench if he does get the chance to shine. So, let’s start with the summer signing, Kagawa. This is a tough one to call because Kagawa has already proved that he can be very creative and make things happen but if they only play two central midfielders then he may be a liability if he doesn’t stick to his defensive responsibilities. So, in the bigger games I believe Fletcher will start over Kagawa if he is fit unless either Wayne Rooney or Robin Van Persie are dropped and they switch to three in the centre of midfield. But, in other games, particularly at home when they are expected to have a lot of possession, this could be the perfect combination as we all know Fletcher will work himself into the ground and let Kagawa dictate play.

In the big games I could see Fletcher starting alongside Michael Carrick as both are decent passers and like to keep the ball ticking over, so they will be vital in keeping possession, especially away from home in Europe. But, if these two lined up against a bottom half Premier League team it would be a shock as neither have got that many goals over the years, however, at times Fletcher has proved he can grab vital goals so this tactic could work. Paul Scholes shocked us all when he returned from his retirement part way through last season and I think out of the options his preferred partner would actually be Fletcher because of his work rate and determination, allowing him to play his natural game and control the tempo of the game while also being safe in the knowledge that Fletcher will cover enough ground for the both of them.

Onto the two players that I believe will once again find themselves far down the pecking order, Tom Cleverley and Anderson. The Brazilian has flattered to deceive at Old Trafford and nobody is really sure at what he is all about, even though he has been at the club for a while now. This because he isn’t disciplined enough to play the holding role and leaves big gaps in front of the back four and when he is played in the advanced role he doesn’t influence games enough, so if Fletcher can regain form and fitness then this could be the last season Anderson is at the club in my opinion. As for Cleverely, I am still not convinced by him for exactly the same reasons but he is definitely improving and if he played next to someone like Fletcher he would get even better because he would have to exert as much energy in defending when playing with someone like Anderson, Kagawa or even Scholes. In my opinion, he has also struggled slightly playing alongside Carrick because all of the creative responsibility is on him, and that is a lot of pressure for someone his age.

So, the good thing about Fletcher is that he can compliment any of his fellow midfielders and a lot of his good work goes unnoticed but the management team and his teammates will understand what he does and it is clear to see that they are all very happy to see him on the road to recovery.

 

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Player of the day- Steven Gerrard plus My hatred for ITV!

England have won Group D after beating Ukraine while France couldn’t get the win they needed as they lost against Sweden however they still qualified.

France decided to play a few of their fringe players with Hatem Ben Arfa and Yann M’Vila who have hardly kicked a ball this tournament getting a start and Laurent Blanc’s gamble did not pay off. For me the big mistake was leaving out Yohan Cabaye who had been in superb form so far and is someone who I consider to be undroppable at both club and international level. Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Sebastian Larsson scored the goals and they sent their fans home happy. France will now face Spain in the quarter finals.

The England game wasn’t the most exciting and their fans will take confidence from the result however their performance still wasn’t great going forward even with the returning Wayne Rooney in the starting 11. The first half showed England struggle to break down teams that aren’t the best at defending and when they did take the lead early in the second half, it was largely down to a mistake from the Ukrainian goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov. However, it is worth saying that the cross from Steven Gerrard was fantastic and Wayne Rooney had to be in the right position to header home. It wasn’t the most exciting game but England were very lucky when the ball seemed to cross the line before John Terry managed to clear. How the fifth official missed it I will never know and it just shows that they actually are pointless and do nothing. Also, it looked as though the ball hit John Terry’s hand later in the half but that also wasn’t given.

Man of the match- Steven Gerrard- It wasn’t the greatest performance from England but their captain showed his worth by supplying the cross for the goal and putting in a number of other threatening crosses. He linked up well with both Rooney and Danny Welbeck at times and that will be important against better teams. Plus, his partnership with Scott Parker is getting better and better by the game as they know where the other is on the pitch and if they should go forward or sit back and protect the back four. It is refreshing to see Gerrard playing well after all the years of seeing him struggle alongside Frank Lampard. He has easily been England’s stand out player this tournament already and he is finally showing his true ability at international level and is a fantastic example to everyone when he is on the pitch.

Gerrard is closing in on his 100th cap for England

Finally, I would just like to say I really hate coverage of the England games, especially on ITV as the commentators aren’t impartial at all and try to claim that England are the best thing in world football. They are not and they think every player is brilliant. They don’t even care that much about the opposition and will not even give them that much credit. They hardly talked about Ukraine when their shot crossed the line, instead they focused on how well John Terry did to get back into the right position but who cares about that, he didn’t stop the goal and if the fifth official was awake or we used goal line technology then it would have been a goal so why praise him? Then instead of saying that would have changed the match, they talked about the Germany game at the World Cup. Football doesn’t revolve around England and it is no wonder England fans are always naive and think they can win big tournaments. I support England but I hate the way ITV portrays the players and it really makes me hate watching the national team and that is without even mentioning Adrian Chiles.