Neville calls WBA's Fletcher 'a leader', should Van Gaal have kept him?

Darren Fletcher

The midfielder won the Champions League with Manchester United, and they could have done with a man of his experience against Everton.

Phil Neville has this weekend been praising his former Manchester United teammate Darren Fletcher, who has been an impressive signing for Tony Pulis's West Brom side since being offloaded from Old Trafford in January.

The pundit highlighted the leadership the Scotland international brings to his side on Saturday's Football Focus show for the BBC, and it was the kind of influence Louis Van Gaal's could have done with during their 3-0 loss to Everton.

"He is an outstanding character to put in your club," said the former England defender. "You need a leader on the pitch and he's a great leader. He's also a great professional and he will be brilliant with the young players on the training pitch.

"When you go into a club you need a player to take your beliefs onto that pitch, I think he was a great signing and I think they are safe."

West Brom have hugely benefitted from Fletcher's arrival in the winter transfer window, a switch United allowed for free because of the midfielder's outstanding service at the club, and the Scot was again essential as the Baggies edged a little closer to safety by stifling Liverpool's attempts to get a win at the Hawthornes.

The 31-year-old led his team to a resilient performance during Saturday's 0-0 draw with the Reds, his 11th straight start since moving to the Midlands outfit. By contrast, he only started four games for United in the first half of the season.

United could have done with someone of Fletcher's experience and guile in midfield at Everton on Sunday, as the Toffees raced into an early lead and Van Gaal thoroughly missed the quality of Michael Carrick for the second successive week.

With Marouane Fellaini riled up and given an early yellow, the Red Devils needed a calming and seasoned influence in the middle of the park, the sort of performance Fletcher would have been certain of providing.

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