Darren Fletcher moves to clarify Technical Director role at Man Utd
Written by Training Ground Guru — March 1, 2022
DARREN FLETCHER has moved to clarify his Technical Director role at Manchester United following external confusion about his first year in post.
The Scot, who made more than 340 appearances for United as a player, was appointed to the new position in March 2021 with the remit of providing “technical advice across all aspects of the football department."
Usually a Technical Director would be concerned primarily with the medium to long-term football strategy of a club, but a tracksuited Fletcher has been a regular presence in United's dugout on matchdays.
When he was appointed Technical Director last March, United said he would continue as first-team to the end of the 2020/21 season. However, he was on the bench for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s final match as manager, the 4-1 defeat by Watford in November, and has remained there under interim boss Ralf Rangnick.
Speaking at a United Fans Forum, the former Scotland international explained: “With Ralf and his staff coming in, and Michael [Carrick] and Kieran [McKenna] choosing to move on, we had a quick transition process, so part of my role has been to assist with that, both on the training pitch and during games.
“I guess that’s been the most visible part for me this season, but that’s really an addition to my overall Technical Director role. It’s been a brilliant experience since I took on the role, the combination of long-term planning and contributing to our strategic goals, with the opportunity to still be close to the team and management.”
John Murtough, who was promoted to Football Director at the same time that Fletcher became Technical Director, added: “Darren’s role since starting his job has been invaluable on many levels, bringing his football experience to bear on a range of areas.”
In a story on their website, United added that youth development was “at the heart of his [Fletcher’s] remit to drive long-term strategic planning across United’s men’s, Women’s and Academy squads – in addition to day-to-day support for Ralf Rangnick’s coaching staff."
Speaking on the theme of youth development, Fletcher said: “That pipeline of Academy talent is a massive part of who we are as a club. Anthony [Elanga] has done brilliantly since he broke into the first team, and Hannibal has also been more involved in the squad recently.
“I’m working closely with Nick Cox, as Head of Academy, to look at the long-term strategy for bringing players through. We have to manage the balance between allowing them to develop and creating the right steps for that, without piling the pressure onto them.
“We currently have 13 young players and Academy products on loan and playing regularly in other divisions or leagues. Hopefully, we’ll see players like Brandon Williams, Teden Mengi, Jimmy Garner, Ethan Laird, Tahith Chong and Amad reap the benefits of that.
“All of them are doing really well on loan and we’re excited to bring them back in pre-season to see how they fare with our first-team players.”
Murtough said that a “thorough process” was underway to find a permanent manager and that their remit would be to “get us back to challenging for those domestic and European titles.”
He added: “Overall, while there is potential for further improvement and progress, we do feel that we now have the right structures in place across our Men’s, Women’s and Academy teams to support long-term success and we will continue working relentlessly and investing to achieve that.”
Meanwhile, Fletcher defended the work of Eric Ramsay, who joined the coaching staff last July from Chelsea, where he was U23s assistant, with a focus on set-pieces and individual development.
The club went more than a year without scoring from a corner until Harry Maguire headed in at Leeds United last month. They have scored only three goals from set pieces this season, with only Norwich having a worse record in the Premier League (with two).
However, Fletcher pointed out that United's defensive work from set pieces had improved significantly during Ramsay's time at the club.
According to whoscored.com, United have conceded only five goals from set pieces this season - a record bettered by only five Premier League teams (Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea, Wolves and Manchester City). Last season they conceded 14, which was the second worst record in the Premier League, behind only Leeds United.
"People only give the one narrative about scoring from set-pieces,” Fletcher said. “The biggest reason Eric was brought in was because we were conceding too many goals from set-pieces. We have really improved our defending from set-pieces and wide free-kicks this season. Eric is a fantastic coach."