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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Fletcher takes ‘extended break’

Manchester United have confirmed that midfielder Darren Fletcher is to take an extended break from football on account of health reasons.

The Scotland captain missed two months of action towards the end of last season due to a stomach illness and also sat out the club’s pre-season tour of North America. He returned to footballing action for his national team in the Euro 2012 qualifiers in September and has made 10 appearances for the Red Devils this season.

However, the 27-year-old has been long suffering from an inflammatory bowel virus and is to take a break from the game.

A United statement read as follows:

"On behalf of Darren Fletcher, Manchester United wishes to announce that he is taking an extended break from football for health reasons.
"Over the past year he has had several absence periods which we have attributed to a viral illness in order to respect his right to medical confidentiality. Darren has, in fact, been suffering from ulcerative colitis (a chronic inflammatory bowel condition) for some time preceding this.

"Whilst he was able to maintain remission of symptoms for a considerable period this has proved more difficult recently and Darren's continued desire to play and his loyalty to both his club and country has probably compromised the chances of optimising his own health and fitness.

"He has therefore accepted medical advice to take an extended break from the demands of training and playing in order to afford the best chance possible of achieving full remission once again.

"We request that his privacy is respected and hope that the removal of the additional stress associated with speculation regarding his health will also aid his recovery."

Friday, December 9, 2011

Evra slams whole United side

Patrice Evra included himself in a withering attack on Manchester United's failings in the Champions League and demanded the entire squad "look in the mirror" to work out the best way forward.

The three-time winners of Europe's elite club competition headed to Switzerland needing only a draw to get out of Group C but were beaten 2-1 by Basle and must now prepare for the come-down of competing in the Europa League. People looking at the Premier League betting odds will be wondering what sort of impact it will have on their domestic season.

The Premier League champions were the architects of their own downfall, with three draws – two at Old Trafford – ultimately costing them the chance to dine at Europe's top table again.

"We have to be honest and say we haven't been professional from the beginning of this competition," said France defender Evra.

"I don't know why."

He added: "Maybe one or two of us have to look in the mirror and say we can do a lot better than we have done. Everyone. And I am the first."

Sir Alex Ferguson's men must now concentrate on making a return to winning ways – starting on Saturday against Wolves.

United have gone five games unbeaten since the derby mauling by leaders and local rivals Manchester City but, worryingly, have not scored more than two goals in a Premier League game since a 2-0 home win against Norwich on October 1.

Match-going supporters have pointed to a lack of creativity in central midfield but Evra refused to go into specifics.

He said there was still plenty to play for and refused to concede United's season was over following their Champions League exit and the football odds show they still have a great chance of winning trophies.

"We are Manchester United," he added. "We won't throw the season away.

"We still have things to win this season and we have to make sure we do that.

"We need to play with heart and the fans deserve more than us throwing away the Champions League and the Premier League."