Fletcher discusses Academy loan process

Friday 13 October 2023 15:31

Manchester United's technical director Darren Fletcher has provided some insight into the club's loan process for its Academy players, as he helps keep tabs on the youngsters learning their trade away from the club.

Our former midfielder caught up with MUTV's Mark Sullivan for a chat ahead of taking part in David Gray's testimonial at Hibernian's Easter Road this weekend.

The match takes place in Edinburgh on Sunday and Fletch is taking a United side north of the border, after being pals with Gray ever since their time together at Old Trafford.

Tickets are still available, priced £10, for the 14:00 BST kick-off.

Fletcher up for Gray's day Video

Fletcher up for Gray's day

Darren Fletcher discusses taking a United team to play in David Gray's testimonial at Hibernian...

Will Fish is currently with Hibs, enjoying his second spell with the Edinburgh outfit, and Fletcher spoke about the young defender and other ongoing plans for our loanees.

"It's been a really good loan experience," said Darren. "It was a little bit slow in the beginning but I think that was part of the plan from Hibs and United. Ryan Porteous was planning to leave in January so Will had to bide his time; got to know the city, got to know the club, got to know the style of play in the first few months of the season.

"From Christmas, he got into the team and has been a mainstay and a revelation since. It's the reason why we sent him back for another season, as we felt like he was progressing really well. We felt like he'd got a number of games and we felt like he deserved a chance to go up there to play some more, they'd qualified for Europe, and the story at Hibs wasn't finished yet. 

"It was an important part of his development and is going really well, it's going to plan, so credit to him and credit to Hibs."

In terms of the youngsters out on loan, Fletcher explained: "They're watched in every game, whether that's live or obviously on video. There's a report compiled after every game. I'm in constant contact with Will, I watch all these clips and WhatsApp him or give him a call.

"Les Parry is probably the one with the closest contact. He'll be up at the games regularly, with a few of our other scouts and loan scouts, and Les meets Will after the games, speaks to him, talks about his development plan and then that gets transferred back to the relevant people in the club. There's constant conversation around young players because it's a big part of the development.

"We all have regular meetings, so we have a regular pathway and player meetings, talking about squad planning, progression and the next stages. We talk about January and all of our [youth] loan players have recall clauses, six months into it. Not that that is the plan it's just for all eventualities really. So we'll talk about do we trigger that loan for the rest of the season or is there another plan?

"And that can be because they're not playing or because they are playing but they're ready for something different. So it's constant conversations really. Me, the manager and John [Murtough], will get together with other staff members, feed back the information from Les Parry and the reports about Will and how he is going on his loan, and take that into account, when we're making decisions, from the first team down to Nick Cox in the Academy.

"Everything is aligned and these are regular meetings that happen all the time but there are always lots of moving parts. Things change from week to week, month to month, and so it's important that we are in constant communication and trying to make the best decisions for Manchester United and, obviously, for the players."

Will Fish is continuing his development away from United.

In terms of Sunday's testimonial, Fletcher promised an entertaining occasion for all who attend the game at Easter Road.

"David's a Hibs legend and that's why he's having a testimonial game," the former Scotland skipper added. "Obviously, because of our connection, and hearing David was having a testimonial, he got in contact with me to see what we could do. We figured it out really between myself and Darron Gibson. It's not easy organising these sorts of games but the players participating have all been fantastic as they want to go to contribute on David's behalf.

"We should get a great turn-out and I want to encourage people to buy tickets and come to the game. Everyone's so excited and looking forward to the game. We know it's for a good cause, for David, and I'm sure, when we get on the pitch, it will be competitive."

Wes Brown (who celebrates his birthday today), Ravel Morrison and Chris Eagles are among the names in Brian McClair's squad for the contest.

David Gray representing United's first team.


Luke Steele
Danny Simpson
Phil Bardsley
Wes Brown
John Rankin
Alex Bruce
Adam Eckersley
Darron Gibson
Michael Stewart
Febian Brandy
Danny Drinkwater
Ravel Morrison
Danny Galbraith
Chris Eagles
Rod Thornley
Eddie Johnson
Darren Fletcher

Manager: Brian McClair

Tickets are still available, priced £10, for the 14:00 BST kick-off at Easter Road.