When United meet Europe’s big guns, Sir Alex’s welcoming party inevitably includes Darren Fletcher.
Remember that glorious April night in 2007 when the Reds lashed seven past AS Roma? Fletcher was there, pulling the strings in the centre of the park. And which midfielder ran the show when AC Milan visited in that season’s semi-final? Gattuso? Pirlo? Seedorf? Think again: it was Darren Fletcher.
And although he started on the bench when the Reds met Barcelona in last season’s nail-biting semi-final second leg, it was United’s no.24 Sir Alex turned to in the last 15 minutes when limitless energy and a calm head was required to see off the Catalan cavalry.
Nevertheless, Darren Fletcher is still criminally underrated by many football fans, according to former United star Sammy McIlroy. Now managing Morecambe in League Two, McIlroy claims Fletcher’s talents are often overlooked.
"Darren’s not about flicks and tricks," McIlroy says. "He’s a player’s player: he gets about the field, gets stuck in and wins the ball. He’ll run for 90 minutes and always give 100 per cent.
"Football isn’t always about flair and pleasing the crowd. You need players like Darren Fletcher in your side. He’ll often go unnoticed by fans but you can bet his team-mates know exactly how valuable he is."
Man for the big occasion:
Most appearances for United
v Chelsea 8(2)
v Newcastle United 7(2)
v Aston Villa 6(3)
v Arsenal 7(1)