After suffering a health scare earlier this season, when he suffered a fit on the pitch during November’s game against Reading, Fleck has struggled to replicate the performances which once made him an indispensable member of United’s team.
But the 30-year-old’s display during their draw against AFC Bournemouth, coupled with his contribution to last week’s win over Queens Park Rangers, suggests one of United’s most experienced squad members is responding to the pressure of a promotion race.
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“I thought he was outstanding,” Heckingbottom, United’s manager, told The Star after being asked to rate Fleck’s work during the clash with Scott Parker’s side. “I thought the role we needed from him, he did exactly what was required.”
After handing Oliver Norwood the ‘quarterback’ role in United’s engine room, Heckingbottom has also been encouraged to watch Fleck’s partnership with Sander Berge continue to develop. A couple of months ago, United’s coaching staff viewed Conor Hourihane as the best foil for Norwood. But that now appears to have changed as United prepare for their final five matches of the regular campaign ranked sixth in the Championship table; two points ahead of Blackburn Rovers in seventh. Bournemouth, meanwhile, are second.
“Him (Fleck) and Sander brought that tenacity we were looking for and we knew we’d need,” Heckingbottom said. “We freshened things up a little bit towards the end, because we’d been out there in midweek and we wanted to keep that intensity. But those lads did everything we’d asked of them.”