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By ESPN Staff

Fletcher: Defence will be key to United's defence

Darren Fletcher has predicted a more rigid Manchester United will be on show this season. With Cristiano Ronaldo now settled in at Real Madrid and Carlos Tevez moving down the road to Manchester City, Sir Alex Ferguson has had a bit of adjusting to do this summer.

And, according to Fletcher, the outcome is an orthodox 4-4-2 formation that he believes will be good enough to terrorise opposition at home and abroad.

"We have always been tight at the back because we have a great defensive record but maybe we have been a little bit too expansive at times," he said.

"The ethos of the club is about attacking football. However, you can't be wide open and attacking all the time.

"You also have to be disciplined and I think you are going to see a more rigid 4-4-2 formation this season."

At Wembley on Sunday, Fletcher was right at the heart of that formation, partnering Michael Carrick in the centre of midfield.

Maybe it should not have been a surprise. For, as the close season dragged on, so Fletcher's abilities grew as reasons for United's lamentable Champions League final display were unearthed.

The inescapable conclusion to draw was that United were passed to death by Barcelona duo Andres Iniesta and Xavi because Fletcher was suspended for the Rome showdown, consigned there due to the needless red card he picked up when the semi-final at Arsenal was already won.

Not that Fletcher is about to let the adulation go to his head.

"The only thing people have said to me this summer is that United missed me in Rome," he said.

"It is nice to hear and I did feel I made a big step forward last season.

"But sometimes you become a better player by not playing. People notice you because you are not there. It is easy to sit in the stand. I was desperate to be out there."

Undeniably, last season's was Fletcher's best and most consistent.

The 25-year-old made 42 appearances last term and the vast majority of his contributions were telling ones in a season that ended with a third Premier League title if not a place in Rome.

"There are some great midfielders at the club but I managed to get into the team for the start of the season and stay there for most of it," he said.

"My performances improved because of the continuity of playing most weeks.

"Now I feel as if I am right in there competing for a place in the starting line-up each week, although I can't take anything for granted because there is so much competition."

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