Premier League

Ashley Fletcher explains why he left Man Utd & joined West Ham

Matt O'Connor-Simpson
Fletcher is currently playing for Watford
Fletcher is currently playing for Watford / Justin Setterfield/GettyImages

Ashley Fletcher has explained why he decided to leave Manchester United to join West Ham in 2016.

Fletcher - who signed for Watford following a four-year spell with Middlesbrough in the summer - began his youth career with Bolton Wanderers before joining United when he was 14.

However, after progressing their the youth ranks at Old Trafford he opted to depart the club when the Hammers came calling.

"We had a good group: Andreas Pereira, James Wilson - who played in the first team - and then below me was Scott McTominay, who at the time was so small. I've got good memories," he told the On the Judy podcast.

He added: "At the time the manager was Louis van Gaal - a real character and a great guy, to be fair. But if you weren't playing in the first team you had to play in the 23s that week, so that was killing me, [Marcus] Rashford and Will Keane.

"Robin van Persie had been out for a few weeks and because he had no fitness levels, he played in the Under-23s. In the 23s there are only a certain amount of games, it's not week-to-week.

"So, Van Persie was coming down, Falcao played one game, Rooney played in another. Will Keane - who's three years older than me - he was still there, and we played with one striker so it's like a queue."

"It the first-team players didn't play then Will Keane would play. It was like waiting for a chance to play in the Under-23s and I'm like, I could be 21 by the time I play."

His last game for United's Under-23s came in January 2016, with the striker joining Barnsley on loan soon after. While at Oakwell he helped the Tykes secure an unlikely promotion to the Championship, scoring the opener in his side's 3-1 playoff final win over Millwall.

It did not take long after this spell had ended for West Ham to declare their interest and Fletcher admitted he jumped at the chance of securing a move to the Premier League.

Ashley Fletcher
Fletcher would go on to score against his former club in the Carabao Cup / Shaun Botterill/GettyImages

"I was doing a pre-season session and I got call from agent. He said: 'listen, I've had a call off David Sullivan at West Ham - they want to sign you for four years.'"

"It was like a now thing, so I to pack the car up and my agent got my mum and dad, drove down from Manchester staying at the hotel in Canary Wharf. Not bad for them.

"And then we signed that day and that whole year was a whirlwind.

"They came in with triple what I was on at the time. I couldn't turn that down. It was West Ham who were in the Premier League. That was how it was presented to me. Four-year deal, you're laughing. Obviously I was going to sign it."

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