Manchester United endured a conflicting summer transfer window which saw them scrambling to achieve their targets – but they did find enough time to nab a potential future star from their noisy neighbours.
Much of the noise surrounding the Red Devils at the moment concerns the slow start to the season Erik ten Hag’s side have made, losing four of their opening eight Premier League games.
The particular area of concern has been United’s midfield, which continues to misfire despite the signings of Mason Mount and Sofyan Amrabat.
And while many still believe Ten Hag is the man to get a tune out of the side once again, the current situation has fans feeling a million miles away from the halcyon days of Michael Carrick, Paul Scholes and Darren Fletcher.
What do you do if you struggle to replace one of the most stacked midfield lineups in Premier League history, then?
Easy – wait for one of their sons to start playing football, then sign them from your rivals after they’ve honed their craft.
That’s what they’ve done with Fletcher’s son Jack, who signed from Manchester City in the summer alongside his brother Tyler.
It feels blasphemous to think that a club like United would’ve ever allowed the son of a player who was instrumental in five Premier League titles to play his football for their local rivals, but it’s probably a fitting summary of the state of things at the club right now.
Regardless, the Red Devils pulled off a double-swoop to ensure a fitting homecoming this summer, signing twins Jack and Tyler Fletcher from City, likely to the delight of technical director and former maestro Darren.
We’re here today to talk about Jack, though, his wand of a left peg and the fact that he’s pretty bloody good at football for someone who’s barely 16 years old.
Making his debut for the club off the bench in a youth fixture, it’s clear to see why United were desperate to rectify their error and steal him back from City.
Solid cameo from new signing Jack Fletcher on his debut.
He only turned 16 in March. pic.twitter.com/wJSj4aJFLo
— academyarena Utd (@academyarenaUTD) October 9, 2023
Comparing Jack to his dad would be easy but equally lazy. What we can see, though, is flashes of Nemanja Matic from the way he uses his height and frame to shield the ball, but also dictates play with that left foot and long stride.
Darren was an industrious presence from box to box and became adored for his energy in midfield, but what he also possessed was an exceptionally crisp ping.
It’s clear that runs in the family, because Jack’s got it all in that left boot, as well as the vision to spot the trickier passes.
We’ll say it quietly, but part of that comfort in possession is probably down to earning his stripes in City’s academy.
That epitomises everything wrong with United at the moment, but also gives them a more refined version of a player destined for a shot at their club.
Ten Hag has been keen to place importance on young players he sees potential in, thus there’s no reason why Fletcher can’t be any different.
Crucially, at a time when every senior United midfielder seems to treat the football like a ticking time bomb at their feet, there’s a clear pathway for him to become a second-generation superstar at Old Trafford in the years to come, with his composed approach.
It’s now up to the Red Devils to make City hate themselves for letting Fletcher slip through the net after years of trying to dethrone United, by providing the framework for him to excel and roll back the years to when his dad would take the p*ss in one of the greatest iterations of Ferguson’s side.
By Mitch Wilks