40-game unbeaten run. Subsequent seasons saw him used intermittently, but the trend of selecting him for the biggest, most important games indicated the high regard in which Sir Alex held his countryman.
That faith was displayed when, in October 2008. Darren signed a four-year contract extension. He admitted that just a few months earlier he had contemplated life away from Old Trafford, only for Sir Alex to field him regularly in the early stages of the 2008/09 season. Fletcher struck up an energetic, dominant midfield partnership with Michael Carrick and began finding the net on a more regular basis, validating the judgement of his manager and finally yielding recognition from peers and supporters alike.
The 2009/10 campaign was arguably the Scot’s best in a red shirt. He proved time and again he can handle the pressure against the cream of England and Europe, while inspiring those around him. His all-action display in the dramatic 4-3 Manchester derby victory in September 2009 yielded two fine headed goals and he netted one of the strikes of the season against Everton two months later. As well as popping up on the scoresheet, Fletcher, who found himself playing in defence during a torrid