Manchester United have been trying to replenish their midfield for so long that the players they’re trying to replace are now being replaced by their own children.
We’re exaggerating somewhat with the above statement, but the worrying thing is that it’s not far at all from the truth.
From Keane, Scholes and Butt through to the next generation of Scholes, Carrick and Fletcher, the Red Devils were living the dream with a catalogue of some of the greatest midfielders to grace the British game.
And despite the bulk of them all doing their utmost to delay the inevitable, father time always catches up. United extracted the absolute maximum out of Carrick before his 2018 retirement, but Fletcher left three years earlier as his powers waned.
Going from a star-studded 2000s to a hellish 2010s, highlights of which included the Schmidfield and Paul Pogba’s world record return, United fans couldn’t have received a more brutal smack in the face.
Regenerating your midfield after two decades of near-immortality was always bound to be a tall order, but nobody expected this level of struggle.
Thankfully, in that time, Fletcher’s eldest son Jack has bucked his ideas up, plied his trade down the road with the noisy neighbours and then been tempted back to United to save the day.
It’s a rather damning reflection of United’s recent woes that Fletcher would prefer his children to get their footballing educations at Manchester City, but the important part is that they’re both now on the books with the Red Devils and ready to right some wrongs.
Twins Tyler and Jack have both had promising starts to life in the red corner, but it’s Jack who appears to be on a mission to make football an art form once again with an outrageously effortless approach to passing and press resistance.
Strutting his stuff in the historic FA Youth Cup – where heroes are made – young Fletcher made us feel exceptionally old with his dazzling performance, rolling back the years and slapping us across the face with the future all in one move.
Jack Fletcher vs Derby U18 | Youth cup. pic.twitter.com/oIh3qM3iyd
— Ravagē (@2IIRavage) December 19, 2023
First Alejandro Garnacho, then Kobbie Mainoo and now Fletcher. Seriously, what are they cooking at Carrington?
These young ballers are getting out of hand. They should be made to come to Powerleague on a Wednesday night to earn their stripes before being allowed to strut their stuff for the biggest clubs in the world and make us feel increasingly talentless.
Apart from an already impressive physical build, what stands out is a freakish passing range – probably a healthy combination of his father’s genes and him being brought up in City’s academy ranks.
Combined with an exceptionally sweet left peg is a pair of long, Paul Pogba-esque legs which make him difficult to tackle and – crucially – what feels like an addiction to passing the ball forward and being progressive at any given opportunity.
The 16-year-old has a long way to go in order to fill the shoes left by his old man at United, but he’s made the perfect start by breaking into the under-18 setup already and even joining in with the occasional first-team training session.
Second-generation talent hasn’t looked this good since Randy Orton made his WWE debut.
We’re witnessing the groundwork being laid for a potentially glorious future for Fletcher.
By Mitch Wilks