News that Darren Fletcher has taken a break from football to recover from the ‘mystery illness’ now revealed to be bowel condition ulcerative colitis has been met with a collective groan from most Reds.
The last thing United need right now is one of our most experienced midfielders being out for potentially the rest of the season, especially with a condition that could see the end of his time at Old Trafford.
In the Sun today, Professor Alastair Forbes, gastroenterologist at University College London has said:
If he achieves complete remission, he should be able to train and perform at the highest level but that all depends on how bad his condition is now.
Most of the risk of requiring surgery comes in the first year after diagnosis. He’s hopefully out of the woods on that front. My overall message to Darren is supportive — ulcerative colitis needn’t wreck anyone’s career.
While all United fans wish Fletcher a speedy and full recovery there’s no point in glossing over the fact that we may never see the Scottish skipper reach the full heights for the Reds again.
No player in recent memory has done more to turn around his Old Trafford career than Fletcher, from the ‘Fergie’s lovechild’ days to being cited as the main reason United didn’t have a chance against the mighty Barca in Rome, his ‘comeback’ has been astounding.
Yet since the 2008/09 season, we’ve only seen glimpses of the barnstorming displays Fletcher made his trademark, with far too many games passing him by to such an extent that even when ‘fully fit’ and I use the term loosely, he’s no longer guaranteed a start- even for the big games, which again were once his speciality.
Just how long Fletcher has been affected by his illness is open to debate, although it only really came to the forefront last season.
If it were almost any other player, you’d be confident that they’d be able to return to the side without too much of their game being lost, but the problem with Fletcher is his games based on a high-octane, tough tackling, in your face style. Even if he lost just a small percent of his stamina, energy or speed- which he doesn’t really have in abundance to be brutally honest, then his days at United may be over.
I, like every other Red, admires Fletcher and hope to see him back to his old self patrolling the United midfield for years to come, but despite Professor Forbes comments, I feel the chances are less than great.