COMMENT: They will have considered the manager’s response. They will have planned for the backlash of fans – and maybe even teammates. But you do doubt whether Jadon Sancho and his minders anticipated the full force of Manchester United’s reaction to last week’s online meltdown…
There’s no way they saw this coming. No way. Jadon Sancho has been pulled apart this past week. His form. His attitude. Dedication. Professionalism. It’s all been examined. Pored over. Revelation after revelation. Ignoring his manager. Upsetting his teammates. Being dubbed a sulk as an England player. A negative influence. It’s come at Sancho from all angles. And as we’ve said consistently in past columns, in this life there are no coincidences.
People have been sitting on this. Inside the club. Confidants inside the press. They’ve been waiting to strike. The timekeeping. The ego. Nothing about how those at United truly regard Sancho has found it’s way to the public arena… well, that is until now.
Now we know it all. And it’s not pretty. Indeed, you wonder how Sancho recovers from this. This isn’t about performance. This goes at the heart of Sancho as a footballer. As a pro. And as we say, the complaints haven’t just come from Carrington. The arrows have also been fired from St George’s Park. And the sources are in the multiple. From management. From coaching staff. From United. From England. We’re even getting those concerns raised by his old teammates at Borussia Dortmund. Sancho truly has been pulled apart.
Is he a victim? No, of course not. It’s clear these issues have been ongoing for some time. And if we add Gareth Southgate’s frustrations, these problems have been running for years, rather than months. The suggestion being Sancho’s absence from England squads for the past two years isn’t just down to on-field form.
But that does get to the crux of the entire issue. How does Sancho rescue the situation? Indeed, is he even capable of doing so? On Monday, this column’s first reaction to Sancho post was why now? Why not just get your head down and win over Ten Hag during the international break?
But upon reflection, we were wrong. Or least the proposition was offered more in hope than with any concrete facts. The sad reality is that Sancho’s record as a Manchester United player offers nothing to suggest that he is capable of fixing this.
Now in his third season at Old Trafford, you can count on one hand the notable performances Sancho has produced. And we say notable, because there’s never been a matchwinning game. A 5-star display. Nothing. It’s basically been a decent five minutes here. A promising ten minutes there. But nothing to suggest he can play his way into becoming a priority selection. And for a player on £350,000-a-week. For one who cost his club €85m. The leaks about arrogance. Attitude. The demand to be played in one set position (left-side of midfield). It’s left Sancho being portrayed in the worst possible light.
United great Ryan Giggs weighed in last week on the controversy. The Welshman making a return to the media on the popular Webby & O’Neill fans channel, with soundbites from the interview being welcomed and run across the world.
“When he came to the club, I was actually a fan,” said Giggs. “I thought he could get better, he could improve, which he’s not really done in the short space of time he’s been at the club. For me, he always made the right choices in that final third, which is rare for a young winger.
“But it just hasn’t happened and he’s sent him away to get fit, he’s tried him in different positions and, for me, calling him out publicly is the last straw or the last thing to try to get the best out of Sancho.
“The player can react and think ‘Right, I’ll show him, I’ll show the manager what I’m capable of’ or he can sulk and he probably won’t get anywhere. So it’s up to Sancho now.”
But the problem is, neither Giggs nor anyother United fan has any type of reference to lean on when making this call. Perhaps what we’ve seen from Sancho up until now is indeed all he is “capable of”? And now, with this total – and orchestrated – backlash from the club, the player and his value to the club is being fully exposed.
Before pressing ‘post’ last Sunday, Jadon Sancho and his minders will have considered the response. The reaction. But there is no way they will have anticipated this.