DARREN FLETCHER is Manchester United’s behind-the-scenes peacemaker as they try to get their top-four bid back on track.
The title-winning former midfielder is now the technical director at Old Trafford.
Darren Fletcher has been playing peacemaker between Manchester United aces and Ralf RangnickCredit: Getty
But in recent weeks he has taken on a role as mediator amid growing tensions between interim manager Ralf Rangnick and the players at the club’s Carrington training HQ.
German Rangnick, 63, is frustrated that the team has been unable to adapt to his pressing game.
And the players have not been buying into his coaching methods and tactics, along with those of his assistant Chris Armas.
Ex-Scotland international Fletcher, 38, is a very popular and highly respected figure at Carrington among both the players and manager, which is why his input is now so important.
United dropped out of the top four on Sunday following their 4-1 derby humiliation at Manchester City and Arsenal’s win over Watford.
Their demolition at the Etihad reopened old wounds in United’s camp, with divisions particularly between some senior players and young members of the squad.
Furious United superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, 37, flew off to Portugal without the manager’s knowledge after being axed from the starting line-up for the derby, later claiming he was suffering a recurrence of a hip injury.
Fellow frontman Marcus Rashford, 24, is also considering his future at the club having been named as a sub for the trip across Manchester, despite there being no other recognised striker available.
It is also questionable whether injury-prone 35- year-old striker Edinson Cavani will play again.
He has been complaining of a groin problem but angered many fans when he was granted two extra days off in the last international break.
That ruled him out of the squad for the FA Cup tie against Middlesbrough, which United lost 8-7 on penalties.
Cristiano Ronaldo and other Manchester United stars aren’t adapting to the coachingCredit: Getty
France midfielder Paul Pogba is also certain to leave in the summer on a free transfer.
Negotiations on a new deal for the 28-year-old have been shelved, adding to the uncertainty around the United camp. The Red Devils host Tottenham tomorrow in a huge fixture for both clubs in the battle for fourth spot.
Arsenal are one point clear of United but, crucially, have three games in hand.
Manchester United boss Ralf Rangnick is trying to implement his philosophyCredit: Getty
West Ham and Spurs are two points behind United on 45 points.
But Antonio Conte’s hot-and-cold side have two games in hand on United and could leapfrog them with victory at Old Trafford.
While confidence is low at United, Spurs will go into the encounter on the back of Monday’s 5-0 drubbing of Everton.
It is against this unsettled backdrop that Fletcher is working hard to help refocus the camp.
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He is not in any way cutting across Rangnick but working alongside him with his blessing.
Fletcher made 342 appearances for United, winning five titles and 80 caps for Scotland.
He returned to Old Trafford after his playing career finished following spells at West Brom and Stoke, to take on a coaching role in the academy.
United’s then boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was so impressed with his work he promoted him to first-team coach in January 2021 and then technical director as part of a large restructuring of the football department.
As well as having an input into the first team, Fletcher also works with football director John Murtough on recruitment and bringing the best academy players into the first-team squad.
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