That is a pretty impressive record for Manchester United’s Scottish midfielder yet he remains some way off convincing all the Scottish fans of his value in the team let alone as captain.
Scotland assistant manager Peter Houston is an admirer of Fletcher and ahead of the player’s fiftieth cap, said,
“For such a young guy I think it’s a huge achievement. He is the captain of his country and at this early age he is getting fifty caps, so great credit to him and I’ll be delighted for him if he is taking the team out.”
There remains a lot of criticism about the fact that it is perceived that Fletcher does not perform for his country the way he does for his club. This is not something that Houston believes,
“We feel that he does a smashing job for his country. He passes the ball well. His energy levels show he is fully committed. He plays in a club side every week who are one of the top teams in the division. We are a small country in many ways. We find it difficult at times to play against top countries with bigger populations, but one thing that Darren has shown for Scotland is that he is fully committed, he is always here, always wanting to play. We can’t expect Darren to play well every single game but certainly if he gives us a performance like the other night we’ll be more than pleased.”
Fletcher himself accepts that he may be playing better in a red shirt than he is in a blue one, but points out that the opposite has been said as well.
“I am my biggest critic. I know that myself. Maybe my form just now for Manchester United is better than my form for Scotland. But that is something that I have to try and put right. I have had the reverse said about me. People claimed I did not produce international form when I played for Manchester United. At the start of my career that was said. In an ideal world you would like to play brilliantly for both. Sometimes that does not materialise for whatever reason. It’s not a case of my trying harder for one rather than the other. I go in with exactly the same desire. You will always get 100% from me.”
Of course, with all due respect to Scotland, Fletcher is generally playing in a more successful team with Manchester United and probably with better and more creative players. It is likely that he would look a better player in those circumstances.
Maybe it is time to start to recognise Darren Fletcher as one of the best midfield players of his generation in the British game. He is right to say that he always gives 100% and the criticism about his performances for Scotland, who he will captain for the twelfth time tonight, seem to be a little unfair.
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