He finally explains why he left Man Utd & joined West Ham
Ashley Fletcher has detailed why he left Manchester United in 2016 to join West Ham.
Fletcher, who joined Watford in the summer after a four-year tenure with Middlesbrough, began his career as a young player with Bolton Wanderers before joining United at the age of 14.
When the Hammers came calling, he decided to leave Old Trafford after progressing through the youth ranks.
“We had a good group: Andreas Pereira, James Wilson, who was on the first team, and Scott McTominay, who was so small at the time.” He told the On the Judy podcast, “I’ve got good recollections.”
“At the time, the manager was Louis van Gaal – a tremendous character and, to be honest, a terrific guy,” he continued. However, if you weren’t in the first team that week, you had to play in the 23s, which was hurting me, [Marcus] Rashford, and Will Keane.
“Robin van Persie had been absent for a few weeks and had to play in the Under-23s due to his lack of fitness.” There is a set number of games in the 23s; it is not week-to-week.
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“So, Van Persie was on his way down, Falcao had a game, and Rooney had a game.” Will Keane, who is three years my senior, was still there, and we only had one striker, so it was like a line.”
“Will Keane would play if the first-team players didn’t.” It was like waiting for an opportunity to play for the Under-23s and thinking to myself, “I could be 21 by the time I play.”
His last appearance for United’s Under-23s was in January 2016, and he was quickly loaned out to Barnsley. He scored the opening goal in his side’s 3-1 playoff final triumph over Millwall while at Oakwell, helping the Tykes secure an improbable promotion to the Championship.
West Ham quickly expressed their interest once this period finished, and Fletcher claimed that he leaped at the possibility to play in the Premier League.
“I was in the middle of a pre-season workout when I got a call from an agent.” ‘Listen, I got a call from David Sullivan at West Ham, and they want to sign you for four years,’ he added.
“It was like a now or never situation, so I packed the car and my agent gathered my mother and father, who drove down from Manchester and stayed at a hotel near Canary Wharf.” It’s not too horrible for them.
“And then we signed on that day, and the rest of the year was a blur.”
“They came in with three times the amount I was taking at the time.” I couldn’t say no to that. West Ham was in the Premier League at the time. It was presented to me in this manner. You’re laughing at a four-year contract. I was obviously going to sign it.”