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'It gets us angry because we know it's not true' - Fletcher rounds on critics

Darren Fletcher, the Scotland captain, has laid bare the growing anger inside the Manchester United dressing room at claims there are splits in the camp.

Darren Fletcher: 'the players are fully behind the manager'
Darren Fletcher: 'the players are fully behind the manager'

United finally registered a victory, against Swansea City on Saturday, after a poor start to 2014.

The 2-0 win, courtesy of second-half goals from Antonio Valencia and Danny Welbeck, should at least quieten the noise building up around manager David Moyes, even if a trip to Chelsea this coming weekend is likely to see it grow again.

Fletcher's frustration is that United's players have not been able to stop it much earlier. For that may have ended the debate about Moyes' relationship with his players, suggestions of disenchantment over perceived preferential treatment of Wayne Rooney, and even Sir Alex Ferguson's presence at matches becoming an unwanted sideshow.

"It gets us angry because we know it is not true," said Fletcher. "We are there every day. The players are fully behind the manager. And Alex Ferguson being in the stand has no bearing on anything. It is great to see him there supporting the team. It would be a worry if he wasn't. We have got to believe in ourselves and keep a close-knit group, making sure that the experienced players are guiding the younger players in the right way. Winning games helps that."

There has been a feeling, going back long before Moyes' arrival in the summer, that United's critics were waiting for the club to fail. That day appears to have arrived, giving oxygen to issues including Moyes' future, even though there has been no criticism from the Old Trafford stands, while leading United fanzine Red Issue conducted a poll that puts the figure of those who support Moyes at 72.98%.

"It is as if some people have been waiting for it to happen and are really relishing it," said Fletcher. "We've got to use that as fuel to prove them wrong. We've got some great, talented young players in this squad. We have to keep reiterating to them that they believe in themselves. They will come through it without a shadow of a doubt and will be better and stronger for it. Hopefully they will be the ones passing on advice to the next generation when I am long gone."

For Fletcher, his experience brings added responsibility at a time when, by rights, he should be free to continue his quest for full fitness after coming through surgery to combat ulcerative colitis.

Not that the Scot is complaining. At 29, he is old enough to remember the times between 2004 and 2006, when it seemed the club's era of dominance was at an end and Roy Keane delivered a damning verdict on MUTV, which included Fletcher, the after-effects of which are still rumbling on.

"I have been in situations when we were written off and booed," said the midfielder. "At those times I had experienced players around me who backed me and gave me great advice. I am just playing on experience."

United will hope Rooney's groin injury has responded well to the warm-weather training in Egypt. Whether Robin van Persie is fit for Sunday's trip to Chelsea is another matter, with the Dutchman's return date from a thigh problem that has kept him out for a month unknown.

Normally, a trip to Stamford Bridge would not be an occasion to relish. However, having won there last year and with present expectations so low, it could be the test United would have chosen. "We will be all right," said Fletcher. "Sometimes in bigger games you really come together. It brings out your best performances - you are really focused and intent on proving people wrong. Going to Chelsea is a great challenge."

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