Darren Fletcher ‘makes the difference at WBA’

Darren Fletcher. Picture: John Devlin
Darren Fletcher. Picture: John Devlin
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A “LITTLE FEE” for brokering the deal is what James Morrison jokes should be coming his way for Darren Fletcher joining him at West Bromich Albion this season.

Maybe not so little in light of the fact that the former Manchester United midfielder and the Hawthorns side have proved a marriage made marvellous in the Midlands, writes Andrew Smith.

Fletcher may not have returned to the position of Scotland fulcrum since the ulcer problem that threatened to cost him his career three years ago. He isn’t likely to earn a starting berth when Scotland are hosted by the Republic of Ireland in Saturday’s Euro 2016 qualifier. His influence at club level, however, has probably never been greater.

West Brom were a team transformed in the second half of the season, which they ended with wins over Chelsea and Manchester United. Fletcher proved a unifying force on and off the field at the club, with the 31-year-old stringing together more consecutive games than he managed in more than a decade at Old Trafford. Morrison can bask in a degree of reflected glory over Fletcher’s renaissance since the friendship the pair established when the Englishman committed for Scotland eight years ago proved a telling factor in them now being both club and international team-mates.

“I was on to him because I had heard he was going to West Ham,” Morrison said. “I spoke to a few club officials and the manager and I knew there was interest. So I was pestering him.

“He says I was one of the reasons why he came. I just persuaded him by telling him about the club. I really believe that he is enjoying it. I hope I’ll be able to charge the club.

“I have always spoken to him, and did when he was out with illness. We became friends the first time I was with Scotland. I think we bonded after the first week and we knew what each of us was about. We get on really well off the pitch. I’ve been there myself not playing for a long time. I was out with a heel injury for over a year so I know what it is like to be in that bad place.”

Fletcher isn’t now just in a good place; he has made the dressing room at the Hawthorns a good place to be.

“I knew what he would bring,” Morrison said. “Playing with the people he has, and under Sir Alex [Ferguson] has probably brought out his character and we look to him now for that experience.

“He had respect the first day he walked in. Obviously the lads have played against him many a time and for what he has done for Manchester United he deserves that respect.”