Darren Fletcher does not believe his role during pre-season is an indication who will be the next permanent captain of Manchester United, despite the midfielder having worn the armband in three of his club’s four games in the USA.
New captain needed
Manchester United are on the lookout for a full-time skipper following the departure of Nemanja Vidic, who joined Inter on a free transfer, while vice-captain Patrice Evra has also left the club with the Frenchman signing for Juventus.
The overwhelming favourite to assume this role is Robin van Persie, given that he was made Netherlands captain by Louis van Gaal, but the striker’s extended break has ensured that no decision, publicly at least, has been taken by the manager.
Should Van Gaal opt not to promote Van Persie to club captain, then Fletcher would seemingly be a contender given the faith that has been shown in him already. However, the Manchester United midfielder would appear to contest the assertion.
“I think it’s just because I have played the 90 minutes in those games,” Fletcher told reporters when asked about the captaincy.
“I’ve had three 90 minutes and been captain three times.”
A serious contender?
Fletcher does have captaincy credentials, of course. The 30-year-old had been captain on a few occasions under Sir Alex Ferguson, while he is the leader of the Scotland national team.
But given the health problems he has suffered in recent seasons, it was not expected he would be in the running to become Van Gaal’s skipper. And although Fletcher may play down earning the role permanently, he has now surely emerged a serious candidate.
Van Gaal may not have given much consideration to Fletcher as his long-term option when he began work with Manchester United at the start of pre-season, but the Scot has become a more likely contender with every passing game.
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Michael Carrick’s long-term absence has offered Fletcher a run in the side on this US tour, and he has been able to perform impressively during this time, with Manchester United having triumphed in each of these encounters.
A key reason for Fletcher to have not been given the captaincy would have been that he is far from a guaranteed starter. But is that the case anymore? With every resolute and cultured display, he looks more capable of being in Van Gaal’s best XI.
The club’s supposed pursuit of Arturo Vidal could put paid to this, of course, but Fletcher’s re-emergence could be very good news for Manchester United, whether he becomes captain or not.