Roy Keane may have been critical of Darren Fletcher during his Manchester United days but the West Brom midfielder insists his former captain played a huge role in his development.
Fletcher broke into the United first team during the 2003-04 season and became an important part of their midfield before leaving for The Hawthorns in 2015.
During his time at Old Trafford he was praised for his work ethic and battling qualities, but in his early years he had to deal with a fair amount of criticism.
Some of that came from Keane, either on the pitch, in the dressing room or at training, with the Irishman also publicly criticising Fletcher following his United exit.
After two seasons playing alongside Fletcher, Keane departed for Celtic in 2005 and, during an MUTV appearance, said of the Scotland international: “I can’t understand why people in Scotland rave about Darren Fletcher”.
Fletcher admits Keane was tough on him earlier in his career but dismissed claims they did not get on, instead revealing the midfielder’s influence on his own game.
“It frustrates me that some people think Roy didn’t rate me because he probably moulded me more than any other player I have known,” he told the Daily Mail.
“He was hard on me but he was always fair. If he spoke to me 10 times, nine were compliments. If I was late, Roy would let me know. If my passing wasn’t on in training, then Roy would let me know.
“People remember the controversial stories and the times he went mental. But the rest of the time he made me feel on top of the world.
“What about the story where I’ve been out for two months and Roy says loudly, ‘I am glad this lad’s back. We have missed him’. That’s not a great story. It’s a better story to say, ‘Remember that time Roy nailed Fletch in the dressing room for looking at his phone’.
“That did happen, yeah. But it was rare and that was just about standards. It was his way of getting a message to everybody. That is what it was like at United.
“Roy said to me once, ‘I could play for 10 years with you doing all my running, Fletch’. You can’t understand how much that meant.
“I just watched Roy and learned, but above all of that I just liked him. I still like him. He was an unbelievable leader and a fantastic player, the best first touch I ever saw.
“I walked on the pitch next to him and knew we would be fine. That is leadership. It’s what I want to do for people at this club [West Brom].”
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