Jadon Sancho: Is it time for Manchester United to cut their losses?

It might be time for Manchester United to cut their losses on Jadon Sancho after his unnecessary outburst against Erik ten Hag.

He was a player Manchester United had clamoured to get to Old Trafford for the longest time. But sometimes, things you dream about the most can turn out to be a nightmare. And that is the case for Jadon Sancho, Manchester United, and the club’s fanbase.

There have been other examples of dreams turning into nightmares in football, with Eden Hazard being the latest exponent. The Belgian attacker’s problems have been so deep-running that he is now contemplating early retirement. Back to Sancho, the English international has also failed to stamp his authority.

The 23-year-old arrived at Manchester United in a mega-money deal worth €85 million. While everyone questions the outlay now, Sancho’s output at Borussia Dortmund warranted a sizeable transfer fee. After all, he amassed 50 goals and 64 assists in 137 appearances for the Black and Yellows.

Fast forward two years and the troubled playmaker has contributed to only 18 goals in 82 outings thus far for Manchester United. With such an unremarkable output in two seasons and a bit, one might be shocked to see him throwing a hissy fit for a, frankly, uncontroversial comment.

But Sancho has labelled himself a “scapegoat” after Erik ten Hag revealed the reason for his absence from the matchday squad against Arsenal as sub-par performances in training. The comment by the Manchester United manager came as an answer to a question on Sancho’s absence.

But if anything, Sancho’s reply points to a fragile ego and a history of attitude issues that have plagued the 23-year-old since his days in Manchester City’s youth division. After all, this is the same player who rubbed Pep Guardiola the wrong way while he was still in his teens.

Not to mention, he has a long history of turning up late to training, leaving even Gareth Southgate dismayed. And speaking of the England head coach, even he has benched the player for being poor during training sessions.

While Sancho is still young and should ideally have his best years ahead of him, he will not fulfil his tremendous potential by antagonising his manager. In addition, things can go from bad to worse if you rub a disciplinarian like Erik ten Hag, known for taking no prisoners.

The Dutchman did not think twice before relegating Marcus Rashford to the bench during his hot run of form last season after he turned up late for a team meeting by very little time. Alejandro Garnacho has also had to win ten Hag over, which he did by putting his head down and working hard.

Meanwhile, Aaron Wan-Bissaka did not make any remark about ten Hag overlooking him throughout the first half of the 2022/23 season before becoming the first-choice right-back for the Dutch tactician. These are players who have arguably produced better performances for Manchester United than Sancho has in his stint at Old Trafford.

So, the Englishman’s outburst is nothing but petulant and reeks of the misplaced arrogance of a player with little self-awareness about his performance levels. And this comes after the manager supported him through thick and thin (mostly thin) last season.

It is worth remembering that ten Hag gave Sancho several weeks off to get into the right headspace while building up his fitness in the middle of the busiest season in modern football. And when Sancho was finally ready to make his comeback, the Dutchman stood on the touchline like a proud father taking his son to a football game.

The Manchester United manager has also utilised the player in different positions to get the best out of him. Yet, the 23-year-old has the audacity to call himself a “scapegoat”. This is a player who earns more than €300,000 per week and had cost Manchester United a bomb, a player whose positive performances fans can probably count on two hands if we are being generous.

Sure, Sancho is a confidence player, meaning ten Hag could have handled the situation internally. But hasn’t the Dutchman already done that in his first 12 months in charge of Manchester United? What is so wrong about a manager asking a player to be accountable for a lack of standards in training?

Player power, which has long plagued Manchester United, is also an issue. And ten Hag needs to do something about the problem, considering we have seen players being ill-advised in their decisions to take matters into their own hands. After all, we will never see such instances at Manchester City, even though Pep Guardiola has practically called one of his players fat without getting any level of insubordination.

Fortunately, pundits and club legends have also opined in ten Hag’s favour in this matter, apart from a certain Piers Morgan, the same individual whose interview arguably spelt doom for Cristiano Ronaldo at Manchester United. And if Sancho is smart, he will recount Ronaldo’s example to issue an apology, lest he wants to spend the next few months on the bench.

The latest reports suggest disciplinary action is headed Sancho’s way. In addition, he might be set for showdown talks with ten Hag and Manchester United. But if the English international can become more self-aware, put his head down and work hard on improving himself, there might be a way back for him at Manchester United, unlike Ronaldo ten months ago.

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