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DARREN FLETCHER TALKS TO MARTIN SAMUEL: Teetotaller on becoming Fergie's enforcer, learning from Keane and turning down Celtic and Rangers | Mail Online

If there is a defining moment in the career of Darren Fletcher, it came in the aftermath of a match in which he did not play. As substitute Fletcher joined the rest of the Manchester United squad celebrating their Champions League final victory over Chelsea in Moscow, Ryan Giggs stuck his head into the huddle of players.

‘He said, “Lads, this is what it’s all about — let’s have it next year as well”,’ Fletcher recalls. ‘And we were looking at this trophy, which hadn’t even been presented to us, and there was Ryan already talking about next year. It brought home to me what this club is about.

‘Later, we were sitting in the dressing room and there were so many players already talking about winning it again. Gary Neville, Rio Ferdinand marching around telling everybody, “I like this feeling, let’s keep it going”. That is why the club gets stronger and stronger. I know nobody has retained the Champions League but we are definitely capable of it.

‘If we do not at least get near it, the club will see that as a disappointment, just as we were disappointed we didn’t do the Treble last year. We always think we can achieve more. Look at Ryan: I’m sure he sees the Premier League as his trophy and why shouldn’t he? He has won it so many times it’s as if he lends it out for the odd year.’

Strangely, there is not a trace of arrogance in Fletcher’s voice as he speaks. Coming from another player, such pronouncements might be interpreted in a negative way — as too flash by half. Fletcher, however, is what Eric Cantona would refer to disdainfully as a water carrier.

He is the man Sir Alex Ferguson sends into key matches against Chelsea and Inter Milan, utilising his energy levels to win the battle in midfield. Had Owen Hargreaves stayed fit, he might have been a peripheral figure this season. Instead, he was recently described by Ferdinand as one of United’s most important players.

Last weekend, Fletcher was paid one of his biggest compliments yet, left to stand on the touchline in a suit as Manchester United lifted the Carling Cup trophy. Sometimes, with a squad as strong as Ferguson’s, it is the matches a player misses that are the true measure of his worth.

Next week brings a visit from Inter Milan and Fletcher is expected to reprise the role he played in the San Siro stadium. He partnered Giggs in the midfield that took Chelsea apart at Old Trafford in January — a selection that was greeted with general bemusement when announced — yet was an unused substitute in the two games preceding it.

‘I knew I was playing against Chelsea for two weeks because when I didn’t play in those other games the manager was saying to me, “Think about Chelsea, focus on Chelsea, get ready for Chelsea”,’ Fletcher reveals.

‘People thought he had gone mad that day but he knew what he was doing. I’ve played against Ryan in training and his skill as a central midfielder is that he turns the opposing central midfield player into a right back.

‘Nobody in that position runs at you. A central midfielder gets the ball and looks to play it wide, or beyond to the striker. Ryan gets it and dribbles and that makes you uncomfortable, thinking: this isn’t what I’m supposed to do, this is not how I defend.

‘That day my job was to cover for him and for Cristiano (Ronaldo), to win tackles and get about the Chelsea midfield, not give them a minute. And it worked to perfection. Ryan controlled the game. We hurt them. It was the first time we had dominated Chelsea, a step forward for us.

‘People ask me why I do well in those games but I don’t think I do anything differently. I think I always play like that but it is only when you are up against the best teams that people notice the work being done in midfield.’


Fletcher, 25, is a contrary sort, on one hand a player whose game depends on utter selflessness, on the other a man who must be completely convinced of his own ability when setting about the best teams in Europe. The contradiction is reflected in his route to the first team.

Born in Mayfield, one of Scotland’s largest council estates, south of Dalkeith, near Edinburgh, he was spotted by Manchester United at the age of 12 but, under Scottish laws, could not sign for an English club until he was 16.

Celtic and Rangers were interested even before his teenage years and were prepared to guarantee a professional contract, but Fletcher held firm, without a club, until he could make the move south. So, for a water carrier, he must have also fancied himself a bit.

‘It was hard to turn down Rangers and Celtic, but it was a time when both clubs had a lot of money and the young Scottish players were not coming through,’ Fletcher says.

‘They were buying from outside: John Hartson, Tore Andre Flo, Andrei Kanchelskis, Chris Sutton. Barry Ferguson was the exception as a young player. Even Hearts and Hibernian were buying foreigners for a few hundred grand. At the time, Manchester United offered more opportunity.

‘I was never one of those Scottish guys who hated the English, anyway; my dad did not bring me up like that. We wanted England to do well in the World Cup, still do.

‘I came down and I had a three-year scholarship and it was absolutely drummed into me that this was my chance.

‘My family are agricultural workers. They worked all year round, barely a week off, so I was taught to appreciate the life of a footballer, because I didn’t want to end up doing what they were doing. It’s all done by machinery now, there are no jobs like that any more, but in the holidays I would be sent to give my dad a hand, because they wanted me to recognise the chance I was being given.

‘It was literally back-breaking work because you are bent over all day; I’ve got uncles with problems like that, from working every week in the field, picking potatoes.


‘I’m teetotal, my mum was, too. A teetotal Scotsman draws plenty of laughs, but when I went to Manchester it was on the absolute understanding that there could be no going out to all hours. It stuck with me.

‘I took it upon myself to give it everything to become a professional footballer and then, when I made it, I didn’t feel the need to start drinking. I do think that played a part. I don’t begrudge anyone who does drink but I had three years to make professional and I feel you should dedicate your life in that time. You shouldn’t be out every weekend.

‘I’m the only one still here from my year group. There were others who could control, pass and shoot the ball as good as me but I think football is played in your head
.

‘It is the way you deal with everything: being at Manchester United, the expectation, the crowd, the nervousness, all of that pressure. The game is played up there before you go on the pitch, and I had that strength.

‘When I won my first medal, for the FA Cup, I was still staying in one room, in digs. That was where I went after the game. It kept you grounded. We didn’t have to clean boots but we had jobs. Mine was to pump up the first-team footballs to the right size. If you didn’t get it right, you got told in no uncertain terms.’

By whom?

‘Roy Keane and Gary Neville. That was enough.’

According to Fletcher, Keane is the unsung hero behind Manchester United’s present dominance.

The playing squad still adheres to his rules, his discipline, still remembers the monsterings he would give players who failed to conform to his exacting standards. Fletcher was a favourite target, apparently, although he bears no grudges, or nervous ticks, as a result.

‘Roy was probably the biggest influence on my career,’ he says. ‘He would come down hard on me if I ever did anything wrong but he made me realise what it meant to be a Manchester United player.

‘I can remember coming in from training one day and checking my mobile phone for text messages. Well, that was it. He absolutely hammered me, all the way into the gym.

‘He was a great influence, really. If Roy had a go at you, he did it because he cared. He was the best captain you could wish for. He would tear you to shreds on the pitch if you gave away the ball, “get your effing touch right, effing this, effing that” but, as soon as you got into the dressing room, it was over. He was a winner. I’ve met dedicated professionals but he had something else.

‘The first time was scary, you thought, “Oh, I can’t make a mistake here”, but it was actually the best schooling you could get.

‘It was a shame the way it ended for him here. It’s hard to talk about the criticism and what he said, because we all looked up to him so much, he was respected by everybody.
 

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‘We all just wish it hadn’t happened. He was our captain, he was our leader and he left a mark: where we are now is down to him, our dedication comes from the standards he set. The rules about time-keeping, about getting in a half-hour early, they were his instructions back in the day and those traditions continue.

‘Even now as a first-team player you make sure the young lads are in check, you make sure they are on time. It is so professional now. Everyone is in the gym after training trying to get that edge, urine samples before training, readiness tests to see if your body is up for training.

‘Team spirit is built differently these days, too. It used to be about going drinking, now it is about gym work, being on the bike by 10 o’clock, giving people stick if they are late, we even have a countdown clock.

‘We have PSP games that we can play on for an hour, six-a-side. We get the foreign lads involved, but the only problem is all their first words end up as army instructions, “kill him, get down, get me up”, that sort of thing. But it brings us together. How about this? Carlos Tevez, Ji-sung Park and Patrice Evra are best mates. I don’t know how it works.

‘What language do they speak? One is Argentine, one is Korean and the other is French, but they walk around together, they banter with each other. What they have in common, I don’t know.’

Fletcher’s most obvious national connection is with his manager and countryman, Ferguson, and do not think it goes unnoticed by team-mates.

‘They call him my dad or grandad,’ he says, ‘but I don’t think my nationality is anything to do with my time here.

‘Let’s face it, the manager wouldn’t have won much had he built his career on being sympathetic to Scottish footballers!

‘He is just one of those guys who is very patriotic about Scotland. Any Scottish team, any Scottish sportsman. It puts a lot of pressure on me, actually, all these little side bets he puts on during international week. Nothing like going off to play France, with the manager shouting “if you lose, don’t come back” after you.’

Except Fletcher did not lose. His Scotland team beat France in European Championship qualification, twice. That must have been worth a few quid to Ferguson. No wonder he likes him around for those big games.
 

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DARREN FLETCHER TALKS TO MARTIN SAMUEL: Teetotaller on becoming Fergie's enforcer, learning from Keane and turning down Celtic and Rangers | Mail Online

If there is a defining moment in the career of Darren Fletcher, it came in the aftermath of a match in which he did not play. As substitute Fletcher joined the rest of the Manchester United squad celebrating their Champions League final victory over Chelsea in Moscow, Ryan Giggs stuck his head into the huddle of players.

‘He said, “Lads, this is what it’s all about — let’s have it next year as well”,’ Fletcher recalls. ‘And we were looking at this trophy, which hadn’t even been presented to us, and there was Ryan already talking about next year. It brought home to me what this club is about.

‘Later, we were sitting in the dressing room and there were so many players already talking about winning it again. Gary Neville, Rio Ferdinand marching around telling everybody, “I like this feeling, let’s keep it going”. That is why the club gets stronger and stronger. I know nobody has retained the Champions League but we are definitely capable of it.

‘If we do not at least get near it, the club will see that as a disappointment, just as we were disappointed we didn’t do the Treble last year. We always think we can achieve more. Look at Ryan: I’m sure he sees the Premier League as his trophy and why shouldn’t he? He has won it so many times it’s as if he lends it out for the odd year.’

Strangely, there is not a trace of arrogance in Fletcher’s voice as he speaks. Coming from another player, such pronouncements might be interpreted in a negative way — as too flash by half. Fletcher, however, is what Eric Cantona would refer to disdainfully as a water carrier.

He is the man Sir Alex Ferguson sends into key matches against Chelsea and Inter Milan, utilising his energy levels to win the battle in midfield. . - HUH ??? NO WAY !!! Had Owen Hargreaves stayed fit, he might have been a peripheral figure this season. Instead, he was recently described by Ferdinand as one of United’s most important players. - what ??? that can't be right ! Ferdinand is maniacaly in love with Fletcher !!!
Last weekend, Fletcher was paid one of his biggest compliments yet, left to stand on the touchline in a suit as Manchester United lifted the Carling Cup trophy. Sometimes, with a squad as strong as Ferguson’s, it is the matches a player misses that are the true measure of his worth.

Next week brings a visit from Inter Milan and Fletcher is expected to reprise the role he played in the San Siro stadium. He partnered Giggs in the midfield that took Chelsea apart at Old Trafford in January — a selection that was greeted with general bemusement when announced — :whistling:yet was an unused substitute in the two games preceding it.

‘I knew I was playing against Chelsea for two weeks because when I didn’t play in those other games the manager was saying to me, “Think about Chelsea, focus on Chelsea, get ready for Chelsea”,’ Fletcher reveals. - again - no way ! this guy's lying - he isn't used in the big matches ! fergie didn't say that - he wants the spotlights so he's lying

‘People thought he had gone mad that day but he knew what he was doing. I’ve played against Ryan in training and his skill as a central midfielder is that he turns the opposing central midfield player into a right back.

‘Nobody in that position runs at you. A central midfielder gets the ball and looks to play it wide, or beyond to the striker. Ryan gets it and dribbles and that makes you uncomfortable, thinking: this isn’t what I’m supposed to do, this is not how I defend.

That day my job was to cover for him and for Cristiano (Ronaldo), to win tackles and get about the Chelsea midfield, not give them a minute. And it worked to perfection. --and this is excactly my point ! who cares for passing ! who asks gattuso or mikel if they could pass !
Ryan controlled the game. We hurt them. It was the first time we had dominated Chelsea, a step forward for us.

‘People ask me why I do well in those games but I don’t think I do anything differently. I think I always play like that but it is only when you are up against the best teams that people notice the work being done in midfield.’


Fletcher, 25, is a contrary sort, on one hand a player whose game depends on utter selflessness, on the other a man who must be completely convinced of his own ability when setting about the best teams in Europe. The contradiction is reflected in his route to the first team.

Born in Mayfield, one of Scotland’s largest council estates, south of Dalkeith, near Edinburgh, he was spotted by Manchester United at the age of 12 but, under Scottish laws, could not sign for an English club until he was 16.

Celtic and Rangers were interested even before his teenage years and were prepared to guarantee a professional contract, but Fletcher held firm, without a club, until he could make the move south. So, for a water carrier, he must have also fancied himself a bit.

‘It was hard to turn down Rangers and Celtic, but it was a time when both clubs had a lot of money and the young Scottish players were not coming through,’ Fletcher says.

‘They were buying from outside: John Hartson, Tore Andre Flo, Andrei Kanchelskis, Chris Sutton. Barry Ferguson was the exception as a young player. Even Hearts and Hibernian were buying foreigners for a few hundred grand. At the time, Manchester United offered more opportunity.

‘I was never one of those Scottish guys who hated the English, anyway; my dad did not bring me up like that. We wanted England to do well in the World Cup, still do.

‘I came down and I had a three-year scholarship and it was absolutely drummed into me that this was my chance.

‘My family are agricultural workers. They worked all year round, barely a week off, so I was taught to appreciate the life of a footballer, because I didn’t want to end up doing what they were doing. It’s all done by machinery now, there are no jobs like that any more, but in the holidays I would be sent to give my dad a hand, because they wanted me to recognise the chance I was being given.

‘It was literally back-breaking work because you are bent over all day; I’ve got uncles with problems like that, from working every week in the field, picking potatoes.


‘I’m teetotal, my mum was, too. A teetotal Scotsman draws plenty of laughs, but when I went to Manchester it was on the absolute understanding that there could be no going out to all hours. It stuck with me.

‘I took it upon myself to give it everything to become a professional footballer and then, when I made it, I didn’t feel the need to start drinking. I do think that played a part. I don’t begrudge anyone who does drink but I had three years to make professional and I feel you should dedicate your life in that time. You shouldn’t be out every weekend.

‘I’m the only one still here from my year group. There were others who could control, pass and shoot the ball as good as me but I think football is played in your head
.

‘It is the way you deal with everything: being at Manchester United, the expectation, the crowd, the nervousness, all of that pressure. The game is played up there before you go on the pitch, and I had that strength.

‘When I won my first medal, for the FA Cup, I was still staying in one room, in digs. That was where I went after the game. It kept you grounded. We didn’t have to clean boots but we had jobs. Mine was to pump up the first-team footballs to the right size. If you didn’t get it right, you got told in no uncertain terms.’

By whom?

‘Roy Keane and Gary Neville. That was enough.’

According to Fletcher, Keane is the unsung hero behind Manchester United’s present dominance.

The playing squad still adheres to his rules, his discipline, still remembers the monsterings he would give players who failed to conform to his exacting standards. Fletcher was a favourite target, apparently, although he bears no grudges, or nervous ticks, as a result.

‘Roy was probably the biggest influence on my career,’ he says. ‘He would come down hard on me if I ever did anything wrong but he made me realise what it meant to be a Manchester United player.

‘I can remember coming in from training one day and checking my mobile phone for text messages. Well, that was it. He absolutely hammered me, all the way into the gym.

‘He was a great influence, really. If Roy had a go at you, he did it because he cared. He was the best captain you could wish for. He would tear you to shreds on the pitch if you gave away the ball, “get your effing touch right, effing this, effing that” but, as soon as you got into the dressing room, it was over. He was a winner. I’ve met dedicated professionals but he had something else.

‘The first time was scary, you thought, “Oh, I can’t make a mistake here”, but it was actually the best schooling you could get.

‘It was a shame the way it ended for him here. It’s hard to talk about the criticism and what he said, because we all looked up to him so much, he was respected by everybody.


great thread rfr - thanks for sharing it with us


what a captain - that roy keane:first:


btw - does anyone see anything familiar in those quottes

was it said a couple of days ago:whistling:
 
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Why do you have to sensationalize everything CROoney? I've been in agreement with you all along that Fletcher plays well in the big games, but now you use it to try and score some false credibility. Are you familiar with the 'straw man' theory? You should look into it ;)
 

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Why do you have to sensationalize everything CROoney? I've been in agreement with you all along that Fletcher plays well in the big games, but now you use it to try and score some false credibility. Are you familiar with the 'straw man' theory? You should look into it ;)
it wasn't directly aimed at you - it's not always about you mr ego - lol - joke


the one who said that he doesn't play in big matches will recognize himself - and the one who thinks he's hardly an important member will recognize himself ;) but i thought you should see it nevertheless

i don't love sensationalism - i love being right
 

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where are all the fletcher bashers now:mfight:


how come they0re not on here - bitching...bashing :p


seriously though - could you even imagine how cruciffied would i be if i said that he's "one of the most important players " in our team


you can only imagine after i got what i got for saying the rest of the stuff that was said in that article too
 

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where are all the fletcher bashers now:mfight:


how come they0re not on here - bitching...bashing :p
Fletchers admission in the MEN that he was on the bench in the European Cup final despite being unfit is a much better interview. It shows clearly that the fact he's crap is irrelevant, he'll still get a place in the squad.

I can post the interview and link to it if anyone doubts his Scotch passport works wonders.
 

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Fletchers admission in the MEN that he was on the bench in the European Cup final despite being unfit is a much better interview. It shows clearly that the fact he's crap is irrelevant, he'll still get a place in the squad.

I can post the interview and link to it if anyone doubts his Scotch passport works wonders.
:rofl::rofl::rofl:

and one would think fergie knows that sacrifying the final at the expenxe of nationality is a big no no

btw - did we win that match without fletch in 120 minutes ?:mf_tongue:

and how many times have we beaten chelsea with him :fyou: - that's right - fergie knows it - thats why he unleashed him at OT - he doesn't want to repeat his mistake
 

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where are all the fletcher bashers now:mfight:


how come they0re not on here - bitching...bashing :p


seriously though - could you even imagine how cruciffied would i be if i said that he's "one of the most important players " in our team


you can only imagine after i got what i got for saying the rest of the stuff that was said in that article too

CROoney.

THis interview doesn't improve Darren Fletcher one bit as a player.

For your info, while Gatuso cannot pas, Mikel can.

I've just posted in the thread about Fletcher's form..

That you think Darren Fletcher is anything better than an average player is embarrassing.

If Rio Ferdinand did say that, it is probably partly 1 part truth and several parts trying to big up his team mate.

Is he more important than Carrick, Rooney, Ronaldo, Vidic, Ferdinand, Evra, Berbatov?

What does that make him the 7th most important player tied with Jonny Evans?

Darren Fletcher is a one trick pony - or should I say one-trick donkey who can mark opposing players out of games and takes up good positions to break up attacks.

But even for a player, who is just a water carrier, his first touch, passing, awareness are all shocking and it won't be too long before Darron Gibson starts ahead of him.

Fletcher is an average player atbest.
 

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CROoney.

THis interview doesn't improve Darren Fletcher one bit as a player.

For your info, while Gatuso cannot pas, Mikel can.

I've just posted in the thread about Fletcher's form..

That you think Darren Fletcher is anything better than an average player is embarrassing. - i replied on that and will give you another responce - that you think that fletcher is rubbish is embarrasing (mind the word one trick donkey that you're gonna say bellow ) - that sounds rubbish to me - now you're gonna say how you don't think he is and all i'm gonna say that he's an ok player that suits us juuuust fine


If Rio Ferdinand did say that, it is probably partly 1 part truth and several parts trying to big up his team mate. - not "If" - he did say that and I remember it also


Is he more important than Carrick, Rooney, Ronaldo, Vidic, Ferdinand, Evra, Berbatov? - who are you asking - me ?- or rio ?:confused:

What does that make him the 7th most important player tied with Jonny Evans? - look above

Darren Fletcher is a one trick pony - or should I say one-trick donkey who can mark opposing players out of games and takes up good positions to break up attacks. - hmmm - gennaro gattuso anyone ?cos he can do only that too

But even for a player, who is just a water carrier, his first touch, passing, awareness are all shocking and it won't be too long before Darron Gibson starts ahead of him. - how is that we say again - laughin ' my freakin' arse off Fletcher is an average player atbest.

there
 
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