Fletcher excited for new season
Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher has double reason to look forward to making a fresh start this season.
Excitement is building at Old Trafford as United prepare for a new era under incoming manager Louis van Gaal, who will arrive on the back of a run to the World Cup semi-finals with Holland.
And for Fletcher himself there is the hope of reclaiming a regular place after three years of struggle with the debilitating bowel condition ulcerative colitis.
The 30-year-old said: "You'll hear players talk about how important pre-season is and I have not had a pre-season now for about three years.
"I am dead excited about it because it almost puts you back to a level playing field with everyone, and you can start the season at the same time as everyone else rather than playing catch-up all season, which can be difficult.
"It is the perfect scenario for me, so I am really looking forward to trying to build my fitness base as best I can.
"We are all in the same position. We have got to impress the new manager.
"The sooner the games come around (the better) and every opportunity you get you have got to show you are good enough and capable of being in his plans for the rest of the season.
"It is a fresh start - go and impress him as soon as possible and get your name in the team and in the squad for the next season.
"I think it is going to be exciting times again."
United are looking for a lift under Van Gaal after a dismal last season, by their standards, in which they slumped to seventh in the Barclays Premier League and failed to qualify for Europe.
Van Gaal is due to arrive next week and will travel with the squad for their pre-season tour of the United States next Friday.
Assistant manager Ryan Giggs met with Van Gaal when his appointment was announced in May and, having had some further contact in recent weeks, is impressed by his confident approach.
Giggs said: "He won't be afraid of taking over Manchester United.
"He is not scared about the challenge, he is not apprehensive. He can't wait and he has got the experience.
"Everyone is excited. We had a disappointing season last year but everyone is keen to get us back where we belong and that is at the top."
Giggs and Fletcher were speaking at a press conference at which United announced they would complete their pre-season programme with a home friendly against Valencia on August 12.
The match has been billed as 'REUNITED14' - the start of a new annual event at which the team and fans will be 'reunited' for the new season.
The game will also be Van Gaal's first in charge at Old Trafford.