Jadon Sancho was not in England’s World Cup plans, nor was he at Manchester United’s warm-weather training camp in the Andalusian rain last week.
While his United team-mates are in Qatar or Spain, the striker is in the Netherlands, undergoing an individual training program with coaches who have previously worked with United’s Dutch manager Eric ten Haag.
Sancho has not been exiled or fired from the team, but both the manager and fans can see his form is declining as the season progresses.
He looks very confident and the best/worst example was away at Omonia Nicosia in the Europa League in early October when instead of passing the ball forward or trying to beat a guy, he did it to Tyrell Malacia A foolish pass back, the latter was put under pressure – a mistake that saw the hosts score the game’s opening goal.
Sancho was substituted at half-time that night and he could have had no complaints.
As one senior football manager, speaking on condition of anonymity to protect the relationship, told Athletic Day 2: “If you’re a Manchester United striker and you can’t run up to a Nicosia defender and try to pick him up, you have a problem.”
With Anthony Martial back from injury, Sancho was on the bench against Everton three days later, but he is in his next three league games against Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur Started against Chelsea.
After a disappointing goalless draw at home to Newcastle, he also featured against Tottenham at Old Trafford, such as serving for Fred in United’s opener, but he was out early in the second half. Subbed off again at Chelsea, cursing himself off after two passes. He wasn’t doing enough and after a 1-1 draw in west London he didn’t play a minute in the last six games before the World Cup stoppage of the club season began on November 13.
Like every player Manchester United have signed from Borussia Dortmund, Sancho has been underwhelming. Shinji Kagawa and Henrikh Mkhitaryan were also expected, but neither came to fruition.
Sancho will have the time and opportunity to cash in. £73m – after a two-year chase to sign him that ends in July 2021 will bore even the most diehard transfer fans – he’s too expensive for United otherwise Unable to sign him.
The fee makes Sancho the third-most expensive British player ever – a fee the club believe they have negotiated down after Dortmund wanted more than £110m last year. He’s also only 22 years old. He will have patience and more chances from his manager and the support of the United fans.
Before his flight to Spain, Ten Hag held a series of conversations with Sancho to agree on a plan to get him back on track, both physically and mentally.
Asked about Sancho’s fitness, Ten Hager said: “First of all, we haven’t seen him in the last few games at Manchester United, so he’s not in the right shape, he’s not in the right physical shape; so now he’s playing in an individual game. project, we want him to finish that project and hopefully we’ll see him soon.”
Managers and players agreed that it would be best to do it right, as a reset away from United’s Carrington base or the daily training environment in Spain. Asked why Sancho didn’t show up for Andalusia with the rest of the players, Ten Hag said: “He’s not fit enough. Sometimes there are physical and emotional situations. Now he’s training physically and our goal is to Let him recover as soon as possible.”
Sancho isn’t the first footballer to slip in form, but it’s a shame.
His pre-season tours in Thailand and Australia were stellar last summer, a performance that bodes well for a solid second season after a mediocre debut season. When he gave United the lead against Liverpool on August 22, those inside Old Trafford, rather than those protesting outside, were stunned.
He didn’t expect it after two defeats to Brighton and Hove Albion and Brentford, but he controlled a ball, made five clever touches and passed it into the On the floor, past Alisson. It was Sancho’s best moment since signing and he was greeted with applause as he walked off the pitch in the 70th minute.
“He did well (pre-season) but he also played some good games at the start of the league with Liverpool, Leicester and Arsenal,” said Ten Hag.
“After that, our levels went down and sometimes you didn’t know why or what caused it. That’s what we’re doing now, trying to study, and now we’re trying to get him back out there. It’s a combination of body and mind.”
Sancho scored the winner at Leicester 10 days after the Liverpool tie with a fine move as he ran onto Marcus Rashford’s ball and eased past goalkeeper Dan niwald. In five appearances, he’s just one game shy of matching last season’s tally – a sign of how underwhelming he was in his first year.
Afterwards, the Londoner spoke to reporters from the Leicester main stand. He was polite, engaged, and insisted on shaking everyone’s hand.
Asked if he felt he had more freedom under Ten Witches than he did last season, he replied: “I would say more information, clearer plans and things to do, especially on the field. Certain areas. Indeed. The style of play in training is what we’re working on. Some of it you see, some of it is the intelligence of our players, they create and get to know each other. I feel good, I feel like I’m on and off the pitch now They’re all in a great position.”
It’s all positive, isn’t it? Six weeks later, he was acting differently. When did the Ten Witches discover the problem?
“Most of the time it comes slowly,” he replied. “He played very well on tour, he started the league very well and after the (September international break) his performances dropped off a bit. First you watch, then the statistics back it up; at the beginning of the season , he has goals and assists, has his critical moments and critical moves, but less and less.”
Does the Ten Witches think his confidence has taken a hit from losing his place in the England squad? (Sancho has not been called up since October.)
“I think the competition in England is very strong,” said Ten Hag. “When I look at the front line, the manager does have a choice there. Even in the World Cup, for Southgate, every game is difficult: who starts, because there is a lot of talent in the attacking line, and now the competition is too big. It’s intense. If you don’t show up every week, you can get knocked out of the team, and that’s what happened.”
It happened to Rashford last season too, but when Rashford was named in the World Cup squad and scored three goals in the group stage alone, Sancho won the title in his 23 appearances 14 months ago. the most recent time. Gareth Southgate does like him – he made his debut aged 18 – but it’s hard to pick out players who are out of form and not playing for the club.
Sancho often returns to his London home, but in the words of Ten Witches, “We want to bring him back as soon as possible, but I can’t predict when we will be back.”
(Photo: Martin Rickett/PA Images via Getty Images)