Main photo credit: James FJ Rooney
By Daryn MacRae
Square pegs, by their very nature, should never fit into round holes. They have four sides, a circle has none, however hard you try it’s not going to do the job.
But, what if the square peg isn’t actually a square peg? And what if all your round pegs are in fact rubbish?
Herein lies my thought process for a campaign I’ll be backing with as much gusto as the country’s party leaders have tackled the general election. I’ll lay out my manifesto, then probably never turn up to debate the fact it’s full of fallacies.
Without further ado…here it is. Darren Fletcher for centre back.
Fletcher may be used at the back to stifle England’s attack
Many will shudder at the thought of a man who’s career as a top-level midfielder, the early beginnings of which involved charging about the middle of the park bashing into Arsenal no.10s at full tilt and the culmination involves charging about the middle of the park bashing into Arsenal no.10s at half-pace, has come to this: an uninspiring transfer to the Britannia and a demotion to the Scots firefighting rearguard.
But, such has been the nation’s inability to produce a centre-half of substance over the last decade, the round pegs – Martin, Hanley, Mulgrew, Greer, Berra – have not plugged the gaps in a porous backline and likely never will.
Fletcher, especially in the latter portion of his career, has displayed the positional sense, defensive nous and leadership the side has lacked at the back.
Strachan has a limited number of quality centre-backs to choose from
Yes, he may not be Beckenbauer, but he’s a whole lot closer to it than Gordon Greer ever will be. Fletcher has never been particularly quick or particularly strong but with his schooling at Old Trafford under Sir Alex’s watchful eye, he reads the game well. The first 5 yards are in the head as they say.
Celtic’s formidable pairing of Scott Brown and Stuart Armstrong are nailed on for midfield spots for the foreseeable future, but Fletcher still has enough attributes to his game to warrant a starting berth for his country.
Paired beside the right partner he could excel in a new role, despite his age. International football is an altogether slower affair than the club version, bringing an understanding and awareness of the game to the fore, and lessening the impact of any caravan’s towed by those lacking fleet of foot. Given this, it’s worth a shot to see how the captain does at the back.
Dropping Fletcher to centre-half would be a step back for both the player and his country, but, who knows, it might just result in two steps forward afterwards.