Darren Fletcher reveals how Alex Ferguson spied on the Manchester United players 3 years ago

Darren Fletcher reveals how Alex Ferguson spied on the Manchester United players

Darren Fletcher has offered some insight into the defining roles Roy Keane and Alex Ferguson played in his career.

Fletcher came through the ranks at Manchester United and made over 300 appearances before leaving for West Brom in 2015.

It had been widely believed that Keane didn't rate Fletcher during their time together at Old Trafford. The Scottish midfielder was said to be one of the players Keane was heavily critical of in his infamous MUTV punditry video in 2005.

That incident, and the subsequent bust-up with Ferguson, led to the United captain leaving the club.

However, Fletcher says that Keane always encouraged him, and that he helped shape him as a player and as a person.

"It frustrates me that some people think Roy didn't rate me because he probably moulded me more than any other player I have known," the West Brom captain said.

"He was hard on me but he was always fair. If he spoke to me 10 times, nine were compliments. If I was late, Roy would let me know. If my passing wasn't on in training then Roy would let me know.

"Roy said to me once, 'I could play for 10 years with you doing all my running, Fletch'. You can't understand how much that meant. For me, it's worked and I have loved it. I still love it."

Fletcher also offered insight into Ferguson's methods at Old Trafford, and how he kept tabs on his players.

In the 1990s and early 2000s, the former United manager used a network of contacts around Manchester and would be well aware of what his team was getting up to on their days off.

"With Fergie he knew every bouncer of every nightclub in Manchester," Stoke City manager and former United striker Mark Hughes said.

"That's where he got his information from! It wasn’t a bad tactic in those days because a lot of the lads were bouncing round nightclubs thinking they were getting away with it."

Rio Ferdinand likened Ferguson's control at United to a Mafia boss.

"The problem is in Manchester – it's smaller than London – he wouldn't have to call anyone," the former United defender said.

"Everyone would call him [Ferguson] because they want to be his mate… He knew everything; it was like the Mafia."

Fletcher has revealed that Ferguson continued to monitor his players in his later years, and managed to use the latest technological changes to do so.

"He had an iPad, too, and all the apps," Fletcher said.

"He had someone at the club following players on Twitter. So he would say to a player, "Did you have a good day out yesterday?" and the player would be, 'How the hell did he know I was there?' and I would be thinking, 'Well obviously you have posted a picture of yourself on Twitter haven't you!'"

"He didn't need to have spies in nightclubs any more, he could do it all from his armchair!"