Fletcher: United will pull together
Published 22/10/2010 | 08:09
Darren Fletcher has led the defence of his Manchester United team-mates against Wayne Rooney's allegations that they are not good enough for him.
As one of the players believed to have been targeted by Roy Keane in 2005 during his infamous interview with MUTV that was so explosive it was never screened and, within a month, had heralded the Irishman's exit from Old Trafford, Fletcher is acutely aware of the impact Rooney's astonishing declaration made last night.
Coming just two hours before the 1-0 win over Bursaspor, it forced Sir Alex Ferguson to make an impassioned post-match defence of his recruitment policy, triggered high level discussions that involved the Scot, chief executive David Gill and United's controversial Glazer family owners, as well as striking a chord with the body of supporters who feel their club is being hamstring by a massive debt burden.
Yet Fletcher emerged from the maelstrom to declare United to be in good hands.
The Scotland skipper was not about to claim Rooney is anything other than a world-class talent.
He just feels a quick look at the history books should help calm the fears of fans likening this week's staggering events as something close to Armageddon.
"You have to accept big players and big stars move on at every club," said Fletcher.
"Fans don't like to hear that or see it happen. But it is part of modern-day football.
"We should all remember what a big club Manchester United is. The biggest in the world.
"High-profile players have left in the past but the club itself just keeps going.
"There will be moments when we are down. There will be disappointments. Strength of character comes from how you respond to them; how you react to the challenge.
"If anything, it should galvanise the squad because we all need to come together. The fans need to trust us and get behind the team."
Fletcher was just 21 when Keane was said to have ranted that he "did not know why people raved" about the Dalkeith-born player.
Five years on, having made over 250 appearances for the Old Trafford outfit and now recognised as one of the most forceful box-to-box midfielders in the Premier League, Fletcher is one of those who will be expected to carry United through their crisis.
Having assumed the captaincy of his country, it is a responsibility he find easy to accept.
"You almost fall into the role because you have been here for so long," he admitted.
"I know what the club is about.
"I have been through challenging situations before and the experience helps.
"You know what advice to give to young players to make them concentrate on the pitch.
"That is what you must do above all else in these situations. As players we cannot control anything apart from that.
"We have a good bunch of lads. I know that because I work with them in the dressing room every day."
Fletcher knows the same things were said about him - and Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo - as United were desperately searching for a way out of their crisis half a decade ago.
It took another 18 months - which included another seismic departure in Ruud van Nistelrooy - before the promise Ferguson had identified turned into tangible success.
Yet the three seasons from 2007 and 2009 arguably represent the greatest period in the club's history given it brought a hat-trick of titles, one European Cup, plus a second final and a semi-final defeat to AC Milan, as well as the World Club Cup and the first of successive Carling Cups.
In the wake of Rooney's revelations, it would seem those days are at an end.
Fletcher does not share the view.
"I am confident we can win trophies," he said.
"We have a lot of exciting, young players, who are getting better every day. You can see in training that they are improving all the time.
"Crucially, we also have a core of experience that has been through testing situations before and won plenty of things for Manchester United.
"Looking around the dressing room, I am very content to have these guys as team-mates. I know we can win matches and I am very optimistic about the future."