Darren Fletcher has had a career that will soon be looked upon with fondness by many, but the story he has written was not always such a fairy tale.
Darren Fletcher Ethcing His Name In The West Brom History Books
After the issues he had with Manchester United that saw his career at Old Trafford end shorter than expected, he made his way over to West Bromwich Albion, and no one knew where his story would go from there.
Fletcher was nothing short of a success at Old Trafford and supporters of the Red Devils still look upon him with a positive light. He was a fantastic servant of the club, making 223 appearances and scoring 18 goals during his tenure in Manchester.
Aside from the amount of appearances, he made himself a fan favourite with the Stretford End faithful with performances that any midfielder would be happy to put out.
Arguably one of the best moments the Scot had at United was scoring the lone goal for the Red Devils in a 1-0 win over Chelsea to end their London-based rivals’ 40-match unbeatean streak, a day that won’t soon be forgotten. He would go on to have another six years of success with Manchester United before his misfortunes arose.
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The 2010-11 season was the campaign in which the dark clouds began to grow over the career of the Scot in the North West of England. Fletcher was having another solid season by any account when a gastrointestinal issue popped up, seemingly out of nowhere. This illness would see him sidelined for a number of months. His next appearance would be in September of 2011 in the UEFA Champions League against Benfica.
The gastrointestinal problem that Fletcher had, and the one that would seemingly end his career as a Red Devil, was diagnosed as ulcerative colitis. According to the Mayo Clinic, this disorder has common symptoms of abdominal pain, cramping, weight loss, fatigue, fever and multiple other more severe symptoms.
For a footballer at the level Fletcher was playing, this is nothing short of a career death sentence. But out of the ashes grew a pheonix, this time in the form of West Bromwich Albion.
West Bromwich Albion
Fletcher signed for the Baggies on a free transfer on February 2nd, 2015. This would prove to be a very smart piece of business for a mid-table club. Despite Fletcher being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, Tony Pulis decided to take a chance on the player.
This gamble would turn out to be an integral piece of a squad looking more and more comfortable in the Premier League.
During his time at The Hawthorns, Fletcher has brought a sense of composure and confidence to the midfield for the Baggies that they had previously lacked. He hasn’t had numbers that are world-class, but for a club such as West Brom he has been a difference-maker of the utmost proportions with his play and with his leadership.
In his first season with West Brom, Fletcher made 15 appearances in the league during the second half of a season that would see the Baggies finish safely in 13th place. During his short stint during that term, he completed 79.7% of his passes and scored a goal as well.
Not bad for a man who many thought would struggle to make appearances on a consistent basis.
Fletcher has struck much the same chord he did in those first 15 appearances as he has in the last 53 in the league as well. In the 2015-16 season, he appeared in all 38 matches for the Baggies.
He scored another goal, had three assists and completed a respectable 78.2% of his passes during the campaign. When you take into account that he’s playing for Pulis, who doesn’t bring a possession, passing, or attack-minded philosophy with him, those are very respectable statistics.
With his play and mindset that he has brought to West Brom, Fletcher has been a regular in regards to wearing the captain’s armband and very few are going to complain about that decision. His influence on the squad, although obvious in quality, cannot be quantified with any amount of analytics.
Fletcher has brought with him the mindset that his former manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, instilled in him during his time under his fellow Scot. This is something that the Baggies faithful have recognised and are rightly thankful for.
Fletcher has been named the captain and the Player of the Year in his first two years for his current club and is not someone who should soon be forgotten.
His legacy with Manchester United is remembered to this day, and likely far into the future, with fondness by those who were lucky enough to see him play for the Red Devils.
Those same supporters, and all the ones paying for entrance at The Hawthorns now, will certainly be able to agree on one point; Darren Fletcher is etching his name solidly into the West Bromwich Albion history books.