All good things must come to an end, and Darren Fletcher’s career Manchester United is no different.
The midfielder is out of contract this summer, and it is has been widely reported that West Ham are hoping to bring the 30-year-old in on loan until the end of the season.
Fletcher would be a great signing for a West Ham side pushing for European competition this season and would gain from the opportunity to be playing every week. United do understandably still value Fletcher, primarily for his professionalism and positive influence on the squad, with his being made vice-captain at the start of this season evidence of this.
The Scotsman has had a brilliant decade at Manchester United, but it would be a shame for that legacy to be tarnished by his career their petering out. He faces intense competition in centre-midfield from Marouane Fellaini, Daley Blind, Ander Herrera and Michael Carrick; and Louis van Gaal may look to strengthen even further in his position.
When called upon this season, Fletcher has failed to match his previous levels, starting rarely and losing the vice-captaincy. He was particularly disappointing against Aston Villa, but must be remembered primarily for his fantastic contributions to United’s success.
Given the great affinity Fletcher has developed with United and their fans, their bias might lead to an ignorance of the fact that it is time for a change for both parties This is not a criticism of Fletcher – there is no shame in being not good enough for Manchester United’s midfield at 30. Add in a remarkable recovery from ulcerative colitis, which he was diagnosed with in 2011, and he deserves great credit for even playing football again.
Fletcher has won the League and FA Cup once, whilst claiming five Premier league titles across a decade. The midfielder unfortunately missed the 2009 Champions League final after being sent-off in the semi-final stages, to the despair of United fans due to his importance to the team at that year.
Typically for Fletcher, he came back fighting, making the Premier League team of the year the following season – and his extensive contributions to United under Ferguson should not be forgotten. At 30, and with this superb CV and consistent glowing references for his character and professionalism, Fletcher has plenty to offer Premier League suitors.
His title-winning experience alone is outstanding, and as a free transfer Fletcher would represent good value, particularly in the ever-inflating modern market. At West Ham, Fletcher would be a great asset as a leader of men but arguably he is capable of playing regularly for a club seeking a top six finish in the Premier League.
Others might say Fletcher’s time is fading and this would be enough of a challenge but ultimately, the Scotsman has spent his entire career defying the odds. One would not bet against him managing this one last time, even if it is not at Manchester United.