24 - Darren Fletcher Profile

For many years, Darren Fletcher was regarded as one of the best of the current crop of Manchester United youngsters, catching the eye to the extent that Scotland coach Berti Vogts was even monitoring his progress.

He was held up a couple of times, firstly because he was still a schoolboy when Sir Alex Ferguson originally tried to give him his debut - which would have been against the rules - and a couple of injuries threatened his rise through the ranks.

Fletcher finally made his big splash for United against FC Basel in the Champions League in 2002/03, and the expectations grew even higher. He followed it up with another fine performance away to Deportivo La Coruna.

In 2003/04, he made huge strides, emulating the rapid rise of John O'Shea a year earlier. He took advantage of David Beckham's departure to play many times on the right-wing, though it soon became obvious that his best position was in the middle.

A brave and hard working performance in the FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal earned him plenty of praise and he was rewarded with a starting place in the Cup final, not to mention his first medal. On the international front, he scored a crucial goal in Scotland's Euro 2004 qualifiers and was even handed the captain's armband for a summer friendly.

In the 2004/05 season, United's below-average campaign proved to be a learning curve for Fletcher as Ferguson tweaked his faltering squad and found room for the young Scot. He made 29 appearances and found the back of the net 3 times. He continued his useful form for Scotland under new coach Walter Smith.

With Roy Keane leaving the club in 2005/06 and Paul Scholes missing half of the season through injury, Fletcher became almost a regular in a troubled midfield for United. However, he was widely criticised for his performances and lack of physical toughness, though he still managed a winning goal against Chelsea at Old Trafford.

The current campaign has seen Flether win over many of his critics with some solid performances in the middle of the park. His appearances though have mainly been restricted to as a substitute, due to the arrival of Michael Carick and Paul Scholes' return to full fitness.

Related Darren Fletcher News

  • Fletcher set three-match test

    Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is offering 'big-game player' Darren Fletcher three matches to prove his fitness before the UEFA Champions League final against Barcelona.

  • Fergie - Fletcher is key

    Sir Alex Ferguson has suggested Darren Fletcher will be a key figure when Manchester United meet Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League final.

  • Fletcher wants away improvement

    Darren Fletcher has warned that Manchester United will miss out on the title unless they improve their away form.

  • Fletcher targets more goals

    Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher is hoping to up his goalscoring record after netting against Bursaspor.

  • Fletcher - We need to learn

    Darren Fletcher admits Manchester United need to learn lessons from their trip to Everton after throwing away a two-goal lead.

  • Fletcher eyes long United stay

    Manchester United star Darren Fletcher wants to follow the examples of Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Gary Neville by becoming a one-club man.

  • Fletcher hails legend Scholes

    Darren Fletcher is convinced a love of the quiet life has prevented Paul Scholes gaining the worldwide recognition his talents deserve.

  • Fletch wants five of the best

    Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher has urged his team-mates to save their season by winning their five remaining Premier League matches.

  • Fletcher - Lessons learned

    Darren Fletcher is confident Manchester United can still reach the UEFA Champions League semi-finals and hopes lessons have been learned from the first leg against Bayern Munich.

  • Fletcher - Cup win was crucial

    Darren Fletcher hopes Manchester United's Carling Cup success over Aston Villa can be the springboard to more trophies this season.