Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 27 November 2014

Manchester United's Darren Fletcher still dreaming of final assault

Darren Fletcher has yet to play in a major European final  (Photo by Lennart Preiss/Bongarts/Getty Images)
Darren Fletcher has yet to play in a major European final (Photo by Lennart Preiss/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Darren Fletcher says he's desperate to live his boyhood dream and play in a major European final.

The Manchester United midfielder was robbed of a chance to face Barcelona in Rome in 2009 after receiving a harsh red card in the semi-final at Arsenal and was an unused substitute in both 2008 and 2011.

After impressing during the 4-0 thumping of Newcastle United on Saturday, the 30-year-old will hope to be given the nod by David Moyes to bring his energy and experience to the midfield in order to contain the superstars of holders Bayern Munich tonight.

"For whatever reasons, I've not managed to play in a final," he explained at a press conference in Munich ahead of the quarter-final second leg.

"Different circumstances have prevented me from playing in three of them.

"It's been a dream of mine since I was a small boy to play in a Champions League final and winning takes us into the semi-finals and gets you closer to achieving that.

"But it's more important that the club and team get there than individuals and, if the team get there, then you do your best in the games and hope that you're selected to play in it.

"But as I said before, the most important thing for us is to win and get ourselves in the semi-finals, then we'll take it from there," he added.

The Scot feels United have the perfect opportunity to avenge the narrow defeat to Bayern in 2010 when the fates conspired against Sir Alex Ferguson's side over two tense matches.

Wayne Rooney was injured in the first game and struggled at Old Trafford while Rafael's sending off proved a turning point during an outstanding display that featured Nani at his very best.

"It's a big disappointment looking back," he confessed.

"There was nothing in the game out here but we lost two late goals which were quite sloppy.

"Then, after dominating the second leg, we were unfortunate to go out, I think.

"Circumstances weren't with us on the night after a great first-half performance.

"So yes, there is regret -- but there's regret every time you lose in the Champions League.

"But that is one I look back on and think it was a real missed opportunity because of how well we played over the two legs."

Bayern have already won the German title but their record 53-game unbeaten run in the Bundesliga came to an end last Saturday after an under-strength side lost 1-0 at Augsburg.

Meanwhile, United will begin their pre-season tour of the United States with a friendly against Los Angeles Galaxy.

The match, which will see two of David Beckham's former clubs meet, will be played at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on July 23.

Manchester United group managing director Richard Arnold said: "Playing LA Galaxy at the world-famous Rose Bowl will be an important part of the team's preparations for the 2014/15 football season.

"The club has been visiting Los Angeles since 1950 and this match provides a great opportunity for us to engage with our fans in this region.

"The popularity of soccer in the US continues to strengthen and Major League Soccer and LA Galaxy have been fundamental to this. Our previous matches against MLS opposition have proved popular with fans and players alike and we are delighted to be returning to the US."

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