Carl Neil Fletcher (born 7 April 1980) is a professional former football player and manager, currently employed as youth team manager at Bournemouth. As a midfielder Fletcher represented Wales at senior international level for five years, scoring one goal in 36 appearances.
Having made his professional debut for Bournemouth in 1998, Fletcher went on to play for West Ham United, Watford, Crystal Palace, Nottingham Forest and Plymouth Argyle, making 414 appearances in league competition and scoring 34 goals. Born in Camberley, Fletcher retired from playing in 2012 to focus on his role as manager of Plymouth Argyle. He resumed his playing career in October 2013 with Barnet.
After playing football for Oakdale Middle School (1988–1992), Fletcher moved onto being Captain of his local football team in Poole, Dorset. Fletcher started his career at Football League club Bournemouth, making his debut in February 1998 as a 17-year-old. He made 185 league starts for the south-coast club, including captaining the side to a 5–2 victory over Lincoln City in the 2003 Division 3 playoff final and scoring 2 of the goals himself, before earning a move to West Ham United in 2004 for £275,000.
Fletcher then played in the Premier League after West Ham won promotion the season he signed for them. He also had a month-long loan spell at Watford. Upon his return from Watford in October 2005, he made 12 league appearances for West Ham. On 13 May 2006, Fletcher was drafted into the West Ham team to face Liverpool in the FA Cup Final due to the suspension of Hayden Mullins.
The FA Cup final proved to be his last competitive match for the Hammers, however, as he signed for Crystal Palace in that summer, for £400,000. He was immediately appointed as captain by manager Peter Taylor. After Neil Warnock took over, the captaincy went to Mark Hudson. Fletcher captained Wales for the first time on 28 May 2009 against Iceland. However, he was substituted after just 41 minutes after damaging his ankle ligaments.
After Neil Warnock was appointed as manager Fletcher found first-team opportunities limited, starting many games on the substitutes bench, which eventually led to Fletcher and team mate Paul Ifill being placed on the transfer list in August 2008. Fletcher was signed on loan by Nottingham Forest in October of that year due to their ever-growing injury list. However, he only made five appearances in this period and due to a problematic back injury, was sent back to Palace.
Fletcher signed a monthlong emergency loan deal with Plymouth Argyle on 20 February 2009, scoring on his debut against Sheffield United. A string of commanding performances led to the loan being extended a month later until the end of the 2008–09 campaign. Following his release by Crystal Palace in May 2009, Fletcher signed a two-year contract with Plymouth. Having been made captain by Paul Sturrock, he led the team in this role throughout his time as a player with the club. Fletcher extended his contract by 12 months during the summer of 2011. He retired from playing at the end of the 2011–12 season in order to focus on management.
Fletcher resumed his playing career in October 2013 when he joined Conference Premier side Barnet. Prior to signing a contract he trained with the club during pre-season and also spent time back at Bournemouth. He made six appearances, three in the league, before being released in January 2014.
Fletcher was appointed caretaker manager of Plymouth Argyle on 19 September 2011, a day after Peter Reid was sacked by acting chairman Peter Ridsdale. The club was taken over by Akkeron Group at the end of October and Fletcher immediately became the club's full-time manager, having won two and drawn one of his seven games as caretaker. He signed a one-year rolling contract at the end of the 2011–12 season and retired as a player. "I have enjoyed playing. There have been highs and lows, and tough days and good days, but it's on to a new era in my life," he said to The Herald. "I'm starting again and trying to build my reputation up as a manager now." Fletcher was sacked on 1 January 2013 after a run of eight defeats in 13 league games left the club 21st in the League Two table. In a tearful post-match interview with BBC Radio Devon, he said that "since I've been down here we've been through a lot, that's football really. I might be a young manager but I know if you don't win games you don't keep your job."
Fletcher was appointed youth team manager at Bournemouth on 15 January 2014 after leaving Barnet.Scores and results list Wales' goal tally first.
As of 1 January 2013
BournemouthThird Division play-offs winner: 2002–03
West Ham UnitedFootball League Championship play-off winner: 2004–05
FA Cup runner-up: 2005–06
IndividualPlymouth Argyle Player of the Year winner: 2009–10, 2010–11