Darren Fletcher’s return to action has been one of the few positives of this wretched season and Fletch is one of the few senior players to have embraced responsibility, rather than shying away from it and the United midfielder has warned his team-mates that they’re all playing for their future.
United’s shambolic campaign was brought to an end in Munich and the Reds enter the last five weeks with absolutely nothing left to play for apart from dignity and personal pride, a stark reminder of how low the standards have fallen in David Moyes’ first season in charge.
While Europa League qualification is still possible, though it would probably be regarded as a nuisance by many, the general consensus is that the next five games will only prolong United’s suffering this season. There are, however, different opinions as to how the Reds will tackle their remaining matches: will they approach them with a “nothing to play for” attitude or will they raise the bar in the hope to impress potential suitors?
Fletcher made clear that him and his teammates must deliver performances that will convince David Moyes to keep them at the club this summer.
“It is time to show the manager that you deserve to be at this club,” said Fletch. “If you get a chance to play, you have to go and impress the manager and show him that you are capable of being here next year.
“Go and put in performances because the manager will be thinking of next season, no doubt about that. You have to make sure that you are one of the names that he still wants.”
Unsurprisingly, Fletcher said he doesn’t require any particular motivation to put in a solid shift, an attitude which has been sorely missed by many of his teammates this season.
“Personally, not for me, and I think everyone should have that mindset. You have to go out to try to win every game and finish as high up the league as possible.”
“We now have five or six league games left with nothing really to play for. That is a unique experience for us and we are disappointed and hurting but we have to go into these games and we have to win them.”
United will miss out on Champions League football for the first time in 19 years and the risk of seeing Liverpool winning the league, could make this campaign even worse. Fletcher has admitted this season has damaged the reputation of the club and of the players.
“He will definitely look back on this season and realise it was a disappointment but I fully expect there to be some signings. People expect signings in the summer, there is no doubt about that, but that is always the case at Manchester United.”
Fletch, however, refused to blame David Moyes for the team’s failures.
“We lose as a team. It is a situation that everybody is affected by, not just one person, player, manager or anyone. We stick together as a club and we win and lose as a club and a squad.
“I don’t think we are as far away as some people think. I think we showed that over the two legs. The club will always look to bring in top players and improve the squad and whoever the manager brings in, they will hopefully help us bridge that gap.”
Fletcher doesn’t believe entering the Europa League could hinder United’s campaign next season and he’s stressed United should aim for the title, rather than simply being content with finishing in the top four to return to the Champions League.
“The goal next season will be to win the Premier League, not merely to finish in the top four,” he said. “It would maybe make that challenge easier not being in the Europa League but there are two ways of looking at it. I am sure the club would rather be in it.”