While Darren Fletcher is far too modest to expect to be the first name on the team sheet, he graduated in 2008/09 from big-game mastermind (specialist subject Arsenal) to a player who made a bucketload of starts in central midfield…
Start to finish: My, how the Reds were in debt to Fletch as the title defence stuttered into gear back in August. The Scot scored United’s first two goals to secure a point against Newcastle on the opening day and a tricky win down at Portsmouth on the following Bank Holiday Monday. A third league strike of the season added another point to the tally in that ‘game of two halves’ at Goodison in October, but it was Fletcher’s tireless running, flawless chasing down and chasing back, and thrusts forward in support of his team-mates that characterised a season ill-deserving of its cruelly curtailed finish.
In position: In early season, with Ronaldo out injured after Euro 2008, Fletch was picked to play right midfield, a position he frequently filled in 2003/04 after David Beckham’s departure. But with Ronny back, he reverted to his preferred, deeper central role, enjoying success alongside Carrick (predominantly), Giggs, Paul Scholes and Anderson.
Season highlight: Against Chelsea at Old Trafford, the surprise inclusion (and dominance) of Giggsy