Former Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher has revealed Sir Alex Ferguson launched a foul-mouthed rant at him when he was just 15 years old because he was considering rejecting the club.
The Scot was on United’s radar from an early age and Ferguson made a number of personal checks on the midfielder in order to convince him to join the Red Devils.
United were confident that they had seen off a host competitors for Fletcher’s signature given the midfielder had been visiting the club for over three years but the Scot was in no rush to make his decision and alarm bells started ringing at Old Trafford.
‘I nearly signed for Newcastle,’ Fletcher told The Lockdown Tactics.
‘I had been going to United from the age of 12 and Newcastle at this point were the second-biggest team. Everyone is telling you, ‘look at all of these great Man United midfielders you’ll never get in the team, difficult to break through, Newcastle is closer to home’.
‘I really enjoyed it there, great club, Sir Alex Ferguson at this point  was going to retire.
‘So the word gets back to Sir Alex and he phoned the house one night and my sister picked up the phone. ‘Here, Darren. It’s for you’. It’s just the boss going absolutely mental.
‘I’m 15, just chalk-white and he’s f’ing and giving it to me down the phone.
‘My mum sees me and grabs the phone and listens for a few seconds and goes, ‘don’t speak to my son like that ever again’, and slams the phone down.
‘So the next minute the phone rings up again, it’s Sir Alex: ‘really sorry, Mrs Fletcher but we really like your son, I’m coming up on the next flight to Edinburgh’.
‘My mum’s looking around the house thinking, ‘I’ve not done the housework, I’ve got loads of washing’. She goes, ‘no you’re not, they’ll come down and see you’.
‘To be honest, deep down, I could tell my dad recognised that going to Man United was the best thing for me, Sir Alex doing that. Anyway it got sorted, you go to Manchester United at 15 and it’s the best decision I’ve ever made and the manager, what an influence he was on my career.
Fletcher eventually became a first-team regular but the Scot’s progress took time at Old Trafford.
The midfielder was perhaps a victim of the super-high expectations Roy Keane placed on the club during his early days at Old Trafford and Fletcher took large amounts of criticism from supporters.
However, following Keane’s exit in 2005, Fletcher came into his own and was an important part of Ferguson’s squad until 2011 when he was struck down with ulcerative colitis.
Fletcher battled back in the following years to make a further 28 appearances for the club but he failed to reach the heights that he’d managed earlier in his career.
Nevertheless, Fletcher says he’ll be eternally grateful to Ferguson for guiding him through the most difficult period of his career.
‘He’s another one who was there for me every step of the way. He was the one who gave me my debut in the first team, seen me through injuries as a young kid, and more so than anything, that time when I was out ill, looking after me,’ said Fletcher.
‘I was worried about my contract and he was like, ‘do not worry about that, you’ve got to get yourself right for your family, you’ve got to get yourself right for the rest of your life, don’t worry about football’.
‘He’d sometimes just phone the house and speak to my wife, he wouldn’t even speak to me, because he’d recognise she’s suffering just as much as me, maybe even more so because she’s taking a lot of the burden. Just constantly on the phone to me at random times.
‘An unbelievable guy and an unbelievable person. It’s no surprise Man United is the biggest club in the world and it’s down to one person at this point, and that’s Sir Alex.’
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