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Can Darren Fletcher save Manchester United £20 million?

Darren Fletcher

Can Darren Fletcher get back to his best and save Manchester United splashing out in January?

Darren Fletcher sat out last night's game with West Ham, ultimately it proved he was not needed as United edged to a 1-0 win.

At the weekend against QPR he showed signs of being back to his best, admittedly it was against poor opposition, but it was a positive display - And he scored a decisive header from a corner too to give United the lead.

It was a sight United fans had wondered if they would ever see again. His last goal for the club came in a miserable 6-1 home defeat to Manchester City just over a year ago, before his debilitating virus struck and kept him out of action.

Supporters had called for United to sign a central midfielder during the summer, a perceived area of weakness in the club's squad, particularly one who can do the 'dirty work', battling and jostling for possession.

Against QPR, Fletcher completed more passes than any other player on display, keeping the side ticking over and was at the heart of everything.

He is still coming back to form, but it was a positive sign for player and club, even if Sir Alex Ferguson felt three games in 10 days was too much for him, considering he travelled to and started against Galatasaray a week ago.

He played 90 minutes in Turkey, while Anderson and Nick Powell were taken off due to lack of match fitness, Fletcher showed his progress by seeing out the match.

In total he has made seven appearances for United since coming back, and two for Scotland, which it has to be said is remarkable considering the predictions earlier in the year his career may even be over.

United in the summer were linked with various midfielders, such as Cheik Tiote and Kevin Strootman, and Celtic's Victor Wanyama has been linked with Old Trafford since then.

Each of those would cost in the region of £15-25 million, but if United can get Fletcher back to full fitness and the peak of his powers, do they need them?

The Scot endured a difficult start to his Old Trafford career, but won over the doubters with a series of resilient displays, nullifying the attacking talents of United's opponents, and his opening to final whistle endurance eventually saw him hailed as one of the most valuable players in United's side.

Sir Alex Ferguson once commented on how Fletcher was the first name on the teamsheet for big games, and when he was unjustly sent off in the Champions League semi-final against Arsenal, his absence was highlighted by pundits as Barcelona's midfield ran amok in Rome in the 2009 final.

If Fletcher can get back to having that type of importance to the team, United may not need to splash out on a new midfielder just yet. It may have been a gamble by Ferguson to wait and hope he recovered, and it may not be as exciting to fans as bringing in a new player, but he could be every bit as effective, if not more.

What do you think, can Fletcher fill the void and save United spending in the centre if he recovers? Or are they still short?

image: © apasciuto

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