What Giggs said to the ref after Fletch's red card
Darren Fletcher was re-watching the footage of Manchester United’s 2009 Champions League semi-final victory recently, when he spotted something he’d never seen before.
The midfielder was harshly sent off in the 3-1 second leg victory over Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium, for a foul on Cesc Fabregas, meaning he would be suspended for the final in Rome.
You’d think, even a decade on, that Fletcher would have an almost photographic recollection of that night’s events, but even he was struck by the actions of one particular United player at the end of the game, amid the team’s celebrations.
“When the final whistle goes, Ryan Giggs is around the referee, basically saying to him ‘what are you doing sending off Darren Fletcher?’ Berating him almost,” the Scottish midfielder told hosts Helen Evans and Sam Homewood in the latest episode of UTD Podcast.
“This is Ryan Giggs. The team has just got to a Champions League final. He should be celebrating, rightly so, like the rest of the lads were. Celebrating with the fans, celebrating with each other.
“He’s right in the referee’s ear, berating him for sending me off and trying to plead with him to do something about it.”
Giggs came on as a 63rd-minute substitute at the Emirates but ended up featuring from the start in the final, leading the team out against Barcelona.
Fletcher still contemplates the possibility that he, rather than Giggs, may have been selected alongside Michael Carrick and Anderson at the Stadio Olimpico had it not been for his unfortunate suspension – which make the Welshman's actions even more selfless.
“We never know what team Sir Alex Ferguson would have played, but he [Giggs] is not thinking of himself in that moment,” adds the 35-year-old.
“I just think that speaks volumes of a leader and a guy like Ryan Giggs. In that moment, he wasn’t thinking about himself but about the effect that decision might have on myself or the team and about how wrong that decision was. He wasn’t thinking about his own personal glory.”
For Fletcher, the gesture simply adds to our ex-no.11’s legend as one of the best players ever to grace the Old Trafford pitch.
“To do what he did for so long as a left winger to then reinvent himself as a central midfielder. It’ll never be achieved again, what he did. That longevity, that ability to be so good,” he added.
“People don’t respect and understand how he good he was during that longevity, it was unbelievable.”
Like most of the stars of Sir Alex’s great side, Giggs’s ability to constantly deliver, when written off, is also an under-rated quality, according to Fletcher.
“An angry Ryan Giggs is the best player. When he had a bee in his bonnet and he had a point to prove, whether he’d been out of the team for a few games, he was a different animal completely.
“'You’re questioning me?’ That Ryan Giggs is a whole different level.”
You can hear more tales from Darren Fletcher’s Manchester United career in the latest edition of the UTD Podcast, available on Deezer and all of your favourite podcast apps.