Make no mistake, this was a hugely significant victory allowing United and new manager David Moyes avoid the unwanted milestone — and millstone — of four consecutive defeats for the first time in 53 years.
Yet it was a curious success, United enjoying a modest 39% of possession against Swansea, but making the little they saw of the ball count, thanks to the ruthless efficiency of teenage winger Adnan Januzaj.
With Fletcher back to add much-needed solidity to United’s midfield along with Michael Carrick, this was a performance much improved on recent weeks.
Worse yet, there have been reports of strife in the dressing room, players unhappy at their new manager and claims Ferguson has been undermining the club by sitting in the stands for games. They are accusations Fletcher steadfastly denied.
“It gets us angry because we know it is not true, that is the biggest thing,” said Fletcher. “We are there every day and we realise the players are fully behind the manager. Alex Ferguson being in the stand has no bearing on anything. It is great to see him there supporting the team and I think it would be a worry if he wasn’t. I think we have just got to be believe in ourselves and keep a close-knit group, making sure the experienced players are guiding the younger players in the right way.”
Still, for evidence this is a shadow of United teams of old, critics need point no further than the fact Moyes is so reliant on an 18-year-old currently in his debut season of first team football.
Januzaj had a hand in both goals, taken by Antonio Valencia and Danny Welbeck, but the alarming statistic remains United have won only one game against teams in the top nine of the table, as of Saturday night, and a visit to Chelsea on Sunday will be a far sterner test than this.
“We have got to use that as a fuel to prove them wrong,” a defiant Fletcher said about other club’s delight in their current predicament.
Nonetheless, for all Fletcher’s enthusiasm, it is a sobering prospect for United supporters to consider where they would be without Januzaj.
“I had known a bit about Adnan, somebody had said to me have you seen the young boy in the reserves?” said Moyes. “But I didn’t know enough about him. But the minute we got him away with us in pre-season we knew right away there was something there. Him and Jesse Lingard were the two boys standing out. He has shown no fear, he is a great talent and he will only get better. He is in Wayne’s category. He is in that territory definitely because of the ability he has got as a footballer. He is slightly different. He is a real calm boy. He looks after himself in a great way, his father has really helped him a lot.
“Because of that he is steeped in football. He works and he lives for it. He practices every day and he is that little bit of arrogance that all the top players have in their own way.”
It was left to Swansea manager Michael Laudrup, a firm admirer of Januzaj, to sound one note of caution, however, about the youngster’s future. “It will be very interesting to watch him in the next years,” said Laudrup. “I don’t know him personally so I can’t say what he’s like as a person, but I hope he’s the kind of player who knows he will have to develop and move on and on and on, not think that just because you’ve played 10 games in the Premier League then you’re already there at the top.
“When they come and watch you in the stadium and see you with the shirt on but at 18, 19, 20 years old you’re still a boy. It’s very important you’re at the right club with the right people around you — family, friends, who advises you — everything like that is important when you’re young.
“Otherwise, sometimes unfortunately, you can see players who play ten or 15 games at the top level and everyone tells them they’re so great and they believe it and think they’re already in the top three in the world.”
MANCHESTER UNITED (4-4-1-1): De Gea 6; Rafael 6, Smalling 5, Vidic 7, Evra 7 (Buttner 79); Valencia 7, Carrick 7, Fletcher 6, Kagawa 7; Januzaj 9, Welbeck 7 (Hernandez 85).
SWANSEA (4-2-3-1): Tremmel 7; Rangel 5, Amat 5, Williams 6, Davies 6; Canas 6 (Flores 16, 7), Britton 8, Pozuelo 5, Shelvey 7 (Vazquez 63, 6), Routledge 6; Bony 6.
Referee: C Foy 8