FLETCHER IGNORES CRITICISM
Darren Fletcher has shrugged off the critics who condemned him last term, insisting taking flak is all part of being a Manchester United player.
The Scotland international bore the brunt of fans' anger last term when results started to go against the Old Trafford.
Forgetting the youngster's tender years, supporters targeted Fletcher rather than looking for failing in others whose reputation promised more than it actually delivered.
Sir Alex Ferguson was forced to defend the Edinburgh-born midfielder on more than one occasion, even if he also admitted Fletcher suffered a mid-season blip which coincided with United's miserable early elimination from the Champions League.
Just as Ferguson suggested though, Fletcher appears to have matured over the summer and while the 22-year-old cannot be yet regarded as an integral part of United's first-choice line-up, his four appearances so far this term have all been effective, including Wednesday night's effort against Celtic.
"Taking criticism is part and parcel of football," he said. "What you have to try to do is focus on your own game and improve.
"As a player, every season is important at this club. If players stand still, so does the team. And Manchester United does not stand still.
"I know there will be times when I do play, and others when I don't.
"All I can do is try my best and hope to impress the manager."
With Cristiano Ronaldo back from suspension, Fletcher might find himself back on the bench for Sunday's tussle with Arsenal.
United do have problems in other areas though, with both Ryan Giggs and Park Ji-Sung ruled out, while Wayne Rooney appeared to be limping when he was substituted late on against the Scottish champions.
The victory over Celtic extended United's winning sequence to five, a welcome riposte to the doom merchants who had predicted the Red Devils would have a terrible campaign.
Fletcher revealed the seeds of his club's encouraging start were sewn at the back end of last term, as United unsuccessfully tried to keep pace with Chelsea.
"The manager kept stressing the importance of finishing second to avoid having to play in the Champions League qualifiers," he said.
"Once we achieved that, it was important to kick on at the start of this season.
"We have not begun in the manner we wanted to over the past few years. Thankfully we have managed to start well this time and hopefully we can maintain that form against Arsenal on Sunday."