Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag faces a tough task to keep Jadon Sancho at Old Trafford after dropping the winger for Sunday’s clash at Arsenal and calling him out for his performances in training. And the extent of the challenge is clear to see, with Pep Guardiola failing to convince Sancho to stay at the Etihad Stadium just one year after taking to the helm at Manchester City.
United signed Sancho in 2021 after shelling out a prodigious £73million to prise the player away from Borussia Dortmund. But he has flopped at Old Trafford, returning just 12 goals and six assists in 82 appearances for the Red Devils.
Sancho was named on the bench for United’s first three matches of the season and made it onto the pitch in all of them. But his name was absent from the team sheet on Sunday as United travelled to the Emirates Stadium.
And Ten Hag explained his decision to overlook the England international in the aftermath of the contest. “Jadon, on his performances in training we did not select him,” the Dutchman said. “You have to reach a level every day at Manchester United and we can make choices in the front line. So for this game he was not selected.”
Sancho was unwilling to accept Ten Hag’s assessment and hit back on X by posting: “Please don’t believe everything you read! I will not allow people saying things that is (sic) completely untrue, I have conducted myself in training very well this week.
“I believe there are other reasons for this matter that I won’t go into, l’ve been a scapegoat for a long time which isn’t fair! All I want to do is play football with a smile on my face and contribute to my team. I respect all decisions that are made by the coaching staff, I play with fantastic players and (am) grateful to do so which I know every week is a challenge. I will continue to fight for this badge no matter what!”
United don’t have any intentions of cutting their ties with Sancho, according to reports. But if the player views Ten Hag’s words as a betrayal, he may decide to push for a move away from the north west as soon as he can. And the 23-year-old has already shown in the past that when his mind is made up, it can’t be changed.
Sancho came through the Manchester City academy after joining the club from Watford. But before he had even made a first-team appearance for the Citizens, he opted to join Borussia Dortmund in 2017. And even the great Guardiola was powerless to alter the player’s career path.
“I don’t know, he didn’t want to take this challenge, this opportunity to discover if he was able to,” the Spaniard explained in 2019 as he spoke about Sancho’s exit.
“He decided to go there. So, it’s perfect. It’s going well and congratulations on what he is doing. He is doing an incredible performance. He did it incredibly well this season. What would have happened this season [at City]? I don’t know.”