Fletcher - All in the mind
Darren Fletcher is confident he will thrive in the big-game atmosphere of the Carling Cup final on Sunday.
Last Updated: 27/02/10 2:26pm
Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher is confident he will relish the mental challenge of playing in the Carling Cup final.
The Scotland international was labelled a "big-game player" by boss Sir Alex Ferguson earlier in the season.
And on the eve of United's Wembley clash with Aston Villa, Fletcher has stated that he has the required mental toughness to excel on the big occasion.
"I'm of the opinion that, in the big games especially, sometimes it's more psychological than about actual ability," he told the Daily Mirror.
"I'm a great believer in that. A very big percentage of the game is played in your head and how you deal with the big occasions. I just relish that challenge.
"The biggest part of being at this club is how you handle it mentally. I'm one of those who wasn't going to hide away if I got criticised, or shirk my responsibility.
"You're constantly being challenged at United. I want to be here for the rest of my career and leave some mark on the club."
Fletcher realises that Villa will provide stern opposition on Sunday, with their hard-working play and speed on the break being a dangerous threat.
"We know they're a very tough team. They're a proper British style team, they're in your face, they close you down and they work ever so hard," he added.
"They have so much pace and quality on the counter-attack that it's something we'll have to be wary of."
The 26-year-old also paid tribute to former United captain Roy Keane, who Fletcher believes is the figure responsible for strengthening his mentality.
Keane implied that his team-mate was over-rated in his infamous MUTV interview in 2005 but Fletcher says the fiery Irishman provided valuable support behind the scenes.
He said: "I think I'm the professional I am now because of Roy. He made clear the standards expected of a Manchester United player.
"He drilled that into you and that's the thing that stayed with me. If you didn't do something right, Roy would criticise you. If you did, he'd praise you.
"People never saw the praise side of things because it came quietly - a word in your ear."