Tuesday 20 February 2018

Fletcher taking nothing for granted

Darren Fletcher Photo: Getty Images
Darren Fletcher Photo: Getty Images

Darren Fletcher realises Manchester United still have to show their Premier League title credentials.

Despite losing their 29-match unbeaten record at Wolves last weekend, United are still in pole position.

Four points clear of second-placed Arsenal and five in front of Saturday's derby-day opponents Manchester City, as Blues assistant boss Brian Kidd recently stated, the championship is the Red Devils to lose.

But Fletcher accepts those words mean nothing.

And, with 13 matches of an arduous season remaining, the Scot knows a record 19th crown will not be handed to United on a plate.

"You have got to earn the title," he said.

"Nobody gives you the trophy. The team that wins the league will be the team that deserved it and showed the best form throughout the season.

"That is always said and hopefully we can prove our title credentials in the next few months."

There would be no better way of doing that than overcoming City at Old Trafford.

David May might have denied any attempt to goad the Blues over their 35 years without a trophy with his planned party, which has now been scrapped.

However, the importance of this particular fixture goes way beyond local pride, with the significance of victory for both sides patently obvious.

"This is when the big games come that can ultimately win you trophies," said Fletcher.

"We've got to go to Liverpool and Arsenal, still play Chelsea twice and we have Manchester City this weekend.

"But we enjoy big games. This club is all about performing and rising to challenges.

"We know they lie ahead of us. We're not naively thinking that the league is over."

The significance of this weekend's confrontation can be seen in Sir Alex Ferguson persuading the Serbian FA to release Nemanja Vidic from his commitment to face Israel, ensuring at least one first-choice defender will be fit to face the Blues even if Rio Ferdinand is unlikely to make it after sustaining a calf injury in the warm-up prior to that Wolves defeat.

Javier Hernandez, though, is not expected back in Manchester until 10am on Friday following Mexico's encounter with Bosnia.

Yet Ferguson knows a large proportion of his anticipated starting line-up have been training at Carrington as normal this week.

Seven senior members of his squad were not selected for internationals, including Patrice Evra, whilst Chris Smalling pulled out of England's Under-21 defeat in Italy with a minor knock.

Fletcher also remained in Manchester for treatment on an ankle injury, meaning United should be fully rested for the task that lies in front of them.

"I am not saying we are going to win the treble, but we are still in all competitions and looking well," he said.

"We are in a good position in the league but by no means are we taking that for granted.

"We are looking to kick on and keep winning these matches.

"The Premier League has shown that it is getting even more competitive.

"There have been so many shock results this season. We have to be wary of that and make sure we go into every game in top form."

Press Association

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