Manchester United FC

What Darren Fletcher has been doing since 2015 Manchester United departure

Tom Gott
Jan 4, 2021, 4:22 PM GMT
Darren Fletcher is a popular figure at Manchester United
Darren Fletcher is a popular figure at Manchester United / ANDREW YATES/Getty Images

Few players have embodied what it means to represent Manchester United better than Darren Fletcher.

The Scottish midfielder enjoyed a long and successful career at Old Trafford, getting his hands on numerous trophies as a player before eventually transitioning into a backroom role at the club after 20 years of being on the club's books.

Now, he's been promoted to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's coaching staff for the first team, having initially worked with the club's Under-16s. But what else has Fletcher been doing since he first left the club in 2015, and why is he back now?

Who is Darren Fletcher? A backstory of his career at Manchester United

Fletcher enjoyed a lengthy career at United
Fletcher enjoyed a lengthy career at United / Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

A former Scotland international and regular captain, Fletcher made his name as a reliable box-to-box midfielder with Manchester United.

Born and raised north of the border, Fletcher played his youth football locally before being scouted by United, who signed him and brought him to the academy when he was just 11 years old.

He was set to become the youngest player in the club's history when he was selected in the squad for the final day of the 1999/00 season, but a combination of Premier League rules and a broken foot meant he had to wait until March 2003 to make his first-team debut.

A young Fletcher with Sir Alex Ferguson
A young Fletcher with Sir Alex Ferguson / Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Fletcher remained a core part of the United squad up until 2010/11, during which he was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, a long-term condition which can cause major problems with the colon.

He remained on United's books while he took extended breaks from football to undergo surgery and recover, but he eventually left the club in February 2015 after failing to play his way back into contention.

The Scot departed the club with 342 appearances for United under his belt. He won five Premier League titles and played an important role in the 2007/08 Champions League triumph.

Who did Darren Fletcher join after Man Utd?

Fletcher went on to join West Brom
Fletcher went on to join West Brom / Michael Regan/Getty Images

West Bromwich Albion won the race for Fletcher's signature in February 2015, bringing in the 31-year-old on a free transfer; and it was the change of scenery he needed to rediscover his mojo.

He made 15 appearances across the remainder of the 2014/15 season before appearing in all 38 games of both 2015/16 and 2016/17 - something he never managed with United and a record he hadn't come close to matching since 2009/10.

The expiry of Fletcher's contract in 2017 saw the midfielder move to Stoke City, with whom he spent two years across both the Premier League and Championship.

When did Darren Fletcher retire?

Fletcher walked away from Stoke in 2019
Fletcher walked away from Stoke in 2019 / Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

Fletcher left Stoke in the summer of 2019, and he quickly decided to begin studying for his coaching badges, without ever officially ruling out a return to playing.

However, the COVID-19 outbreak effectively put an end to any hope of a return. Fletcher confessed to told BBC Radio Scotland that the illness meant he was a high-risk person, so a return to football then seemed unlikely.

What has Darren Fletcher been doing since retirement?

After taking a break to focus on gaining his badges and staying healthy, Fletcher returned to United in October 2020, taking up a role with the club's Under-16 side while undertaking some punditry duties on television and radio.

He clearly impressed enough to earn a promotion to the senior side in January 2021, with Solskjaer insisting Fletcher "has the United DNA running through his veins and he knows exactly what it takes to be a Manchester United player."

Whether or not Fletcher can help coach United's crop to the same levels of success he enjoyed remains to be seen, but there's no doubting that he knows what it takes to be a winner.

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