Fletcher - I'm not dirty
Darren Fletcher says he is not a dirty player despite referees beginning to clamp down on him.
By Richard Bailey
Last Updated: 12/01/10 2:22pm
Darren Fletcher insists he is not a dirty player despite a number of referees beginning to clamp down on his combative style this season.
The Manchester United midfielder was sent-off for two yellow card offences by referee Mark Clattenburg against Birmingham at the weekend as the champions were held to a 1-1 draw at St Andrews.
The 25-year-old has also picked up a further three yellow cards in all competitions this term with Fletcher arguing after the game with Chelsea in November that referees were targeting him after certain comments in the media.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger highlighted that a United player had gone around kicking his players without ever getting punished during their clash at Old Trafford earlier in the season and while the Frenchman did not name the culprit he made it obvious that Fletcher was the man he meant.
"Saturday was disappointing because I was constantly being fouled and when I said something the ref said to me 'it's a man's game'," he told the Manchester Evening News.
"So I went in hard and he books me. Then he booked me again for nothing really. You don't want to miss games for any reason and to miss one for suspension disrupts things for me.
"We have enough midfielders so I am sure someone will come in and do a good job. But someone coming in and doing well could mean I can't get back into the side and that is the risk.
"But I cannot afford to think of that when I play. I play every game for the moment and I don't look too far forward.
"We needed to get stuck in against Birmingham and battle and that is what we did. I didn't concern myself with any possible consequences.
"You have to trust the referees that they are not going to take notice of what people say or write. They have to judge each game and referee it fairly and that is all I can ask.
"I am not a dirty player by any stretch of the imagination. I go in for the ball and sometimes I might mistime it and make a foul.
"But I am not a dirty player. I don't know whether all this goes back to the Wenger comments. He said what he said and all I can hope for is that referees are going to be fair and they usually are to be honest."
Fletcher is currently away with the rest of the United squad for some warm-weather training in Qatar and the midfielder is confident the experienced players can help get the club back on track after a number of shaky displays when they return.
"The likes of Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Gary Neville told me not to worry about it because they'd experienced it and you get through it," he added.
"You learn from it and it is what being part of this club is all about. You get used to and respond to it.
"Everyone wants to shoot you down when you are successful and you have to have the character to take that on board and fight back. That is the challenge."