Darren Fletcher completed another step on his road to recovery last night with a full 90 minute performance against Blackburn Rovers.
The 29-year-old stood head and shoulders above every player on the pitch which was a testament to his ability that has not waned in his absence from first team football.
From the first minute, he dictated play wherever he could from his deep-lying playmaker role. Most of Manchester United’s quality play going forward had a Fletcher pass or two at the heartbeat of it.
On plenty of occasions too, he delivered the killer final ball with aplomb – none more so than a deftly hit pass over the top of the defence that Joe Rothwell couldn’t get the ball under his control for what would have likely been a goal.
Fletcher looked much sharper than he did in the last game and even had the energy to sprint 40 yards to present himself as an option for the short pass in the last few minutes of the game.
The Scottish midfielder played smartly and United reaped the rewards. He was a stationary midfielder most of the time and used his space to read the game, split it open and turn it to United’s advantage.
There’s no way that he can return to the terrier like player we all loved before he was struck down by ulcerative colitis and that sort of role is the only way that Fletcher is going to make a return to United’s first team.
He’ll become an enforcer. A player who almost acts like a sweeper in front of the defence and lets his midfield partner(s) take the ball further up the pitch. It would be a new role for Fletcher but one that suits his new style of play.
So long as he can continue on his upward curve he finds himself, there’s no reason why Fletcher cannot work his way into Moyes’ squad when the time is right. He’ll certainly bring some experience into United’s midfield at the very least.
Alongside Fletcher, a special mention should go to Joe Rothwell was quietly impressive too in his call-up from the Under-19s. At a time where United lack depth in the first team, it is at least good to see some progressing so well with the Under-21s.