Manchester United vice-captain Darren Fletcher could be at the end of his career at Old Trafford when his contract runs out in the summer, and the Stoke City game showed the time might be right.
In recent matches, Fletcher has been used as a late substitute in order to shore up the United midfield and protect the defence but the Scottish international has failed to do either.
Against Arsenal, United’s defence was breached minutes after Fletcher arrived although it would be harsh to point fingers directly at Fletcher for Olivier Giroud’s superb finish. But against Stoke, Fletcher was beaten easily by Marko Arnautovic which allowed the away side to mount a late charge at David De Gea‘s goal.
Once upon a time the 30-year old was a key part of United’s squad under Sir Alex Ferguson and it’s easy to remember the disappointment among supporters when Fletcher was ruled out of the 2009 Champions League final, such was his importance to the team, but that isn’t the case any more.
Fletcher’s evident decline is sad given the torment he has gone through in recent years with illness and every fan was over the moon to see him return to full fitness after a long battle which saw him out of action for well over a year.
But it appears the former combative midfielder hasn’t yet returned to the player he once was and given he is now in his thirties there’ll be concerns over whether he ever will. Rumours have already surfaced over a move away in January and it remains to be seen whether Louis van Gaal will deem him worthy of a new contract at Old Trafford.