Fletcher targets more goals
Darren Fletcher is determined to maintained his goalscoring hot streak after his crucial double at Old Trafford yesterday. The Manchester United midfielder contributed a couple of fierce far-post headers to the Red Devils' dramatic 4-3 victory over Manchester City.
It opened Fletcher's account for the season and was the first time he had scored twice in a game since February 2008. Although his performances over the past year have drawn warm praise from many quarters, with his absence during last term's UEFA Champions League final seen as crucial to the stroll Barcelona enjoyed in Rome, the Scotland international knows there is still plenty of room for improvement.
And the 26-year-old has identified the goalscoring department as a particular area of development. "I am pleased to get those goals because I missed a few very easy chances earlier in the season," he said. "It is nice to get a couple to get me on my way. Now I have to try and get a few more."
Fletcher only played a watching brief in the dramatic last few seconds, though, as Ryan Giggs picked out Michael Owen with a sublime pass that allowed the England striker to settle what Sir Alex Ferguson has already claimed was the best Manchester derby in history deep into stoppage time.
"When you are involved in a game you can't tell how much injury time there is," he said. "There was a goal and a substitution, so you have to add on minutes for that. As a player you play, you don't concern yourself about time. I just felt we could get that extra goal.
"The whole move was superb. Ryan Giggs's pass was unbelievable, as was the way Michael controlled the ball with the outside of his right foot and finished it the same way. A natural goalscorer makes natural goalscoring movements and over the next few months Michael is going to be an important player for us."
Fletcher feels it has been an important week for United. Although the Red Devils did go into the last international break on the back of a win over Arsenal, the unconvincing manner of that triumph left many questions over Sir Alex Ferguson's side.
Yet victories at Tottenham Hotspur and Besiktas turned the tide and the sheer fortitude shown to defeat a City side that came back to level on three occasions proves United can prosper, despite the loss of Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez. "Everyone has been writing us off but you have to use that in the right way and prove people wrong," said Fletcher.
"It was a hard week in football terms and you cannot ask for much more than the results we have got. We know how much quality there is in the dressing room. You look around and you are happy to have those players in your team."
However, there was a warning from Fletcher, who felt United's first-half performance left a little to be desired, especially after Gareth Barry's shock equaliser. "After that we seemed to get a bit disheartened, which you cannot do in any game," he said.
"We rallied round at half-time and came out all guns blazing. That should be the standard we play at every week. If we want to win games we cannot afford to go through the motions as we did for large parts of the first half."