Former Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher admitted he’s looking forward to some playing time…
Darren Fletcher has admitted that he was forced to end his 20 year association with Manchester United in order to return to playing first-team football. The 31-year-old joined West Bromwich Albion on transfer deadline day and starts today’s game against Burnley as captain.
Fletcher, who was quoted by the Independent, said: of his decision to leave United: “After everything I have been through, to not be playing was difficult for me.”
The Scottish international endured a lengthy struggle with ulcerative colitis towards the end of his time at Old Trafford, undergoing three operations to try and remedy the problem.
He added: “Fighting the illness was to keep playing football. I thought it would be at Manchester United but that’s not the case. It’s here now at West Brom. When I was fighting all those dark days, I was a young man and had worked all my life and dreamed of becoming a professional footballer.
“I didn’t want to give up on that too early. My kids [twins Jack and Tyler, now seven] were still young and hadn’t seen me play that much. All these things were driving me on.
“You accept squad rotation and all these different things I had done over the years but when you are on the bench week upon week it does become difficult when you feel you have got so much to give.”
Fletcher now hopes to match the exploits of former teammate Phil Neville, who enjoyed a successful spell with Everton after choosing to end his time at United early. He explained: “Phil is the example and that is something I would like to repeat here at West Brom – having my career at Manchester United and achieving great success and now coming and having success at West Brom as well, whatever you may judge that to be.
“I’ve said before, why not go and win a trophy or finish as high up the league as possible? I feel getting back to that level will come with a run of games and I’ve definitely noticed the intensity of training is a lot harder in the last few days here.
“With that combination of things, hopefully I can get back to the level I could be at. Even without the illness I would have adapted my game as I got older but I still feel capable of doing the things I used to do.”
Discussing new manager Tony Pulis, Fletcher added: “He told me if I’m not doing it he’ll be giving me the hairdryer treatment. He left me under no illusions – he expects his players to do this or that and if they don’t do it, they’ll be told. Great. I am used to that.”