Manchester United are in the midst of a crisis following their 5-0 thrashing by Liverpool on Sunday – a game their £73million summer signing Jadon Sancho did not even play in
There are so many problems engulfing Manchester United at the moment that the issue of Jadon Sancho’s form may seem peripheral.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s position as manager is under intense scrutiny following the disastrous 5-0 defeat by Liverpool on Sunday.
That debate is all encompassing for United currently, but it seems – for now at least – that the Norwegian will be afforded the opportunity to turn things around.
United’s Premier League game against Tottenham on Saturday has therefore taken on huge amounts of significance.
If the players turn up with a markedly different attitude, show a coherent game plan and pick up a positive result then it will create a show of unity and offer proof that Solskjaer still has the backing of the dressing room.
With Solskjaer teetering, part of the debate over the coming days will no doubt fall upon the issue of team selection.
Solskjaer is bound to make changes to his starting XI for the crunch game at Spurs after the embarrassment dished out by Jurgen Klopp’s side.
Normally a £73million summer signing would be a shoe-in for a place in the team, especially one who was the club’s number one transfer target for two years running and enjoyed an excellent 2020/21 season.
In many ways Sancho’s arrival at Old Trafford made perfect sense. Here was a specialist ring-winger who had 50 goals and 64 assists in 137 games for Borussia Dortmund.
Despite his brilliant creative output in Germany, his experience came at a young age and therefore with plenty of time still left to develop.
Fast-forward a few months from the heady days of the summer, when excitement was inescapable around United, and Sancho could hardly have endured a worse start to the 2021/22 season.
Sancho has not sustained a serious injury. He has not made any glaring errors, nor soured his reputation due to an ill-advised piece of play or incident off the pitch. He is simply in poor form.
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Since joining United, Sancho has failed to contribute a goal or an assist for Solskjaer’s side in 11 appearances across all competitions over a total of 519 minutes.
Sancho’s status is such that he did not even make it onto the pitch during the 5-0 mauling by Liverpool last weekend: alongside Donny van de Beek and Jesse Lingard, he remained rooted to his seat at Old Trafford.
Sancho is far from the first big-money signing to make a slow start at a new club – and the circumstances of his involvement in England’s penalty shoot-out defeat by Italy in the Euro 2020 final makes his struggles more understandable.
But, with United in a rut having won just three of their last nine matches, they could really do with an impact from their third most expensive signing of all time.
They may not get it when they most need it – against Spurs on Saturday – but it is likely to come eventually.
And while things may look bleak, United fans should reflect upon a piece of wisdom from former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger from way back in December 2006.
Wenger’s efforts may well have been to ridicule Chelsea, who were waiting for Andriy Shevchenko to come good after buying the striker as part of the early-years investment by Roman Abramovich, but his point stands.
“You can buy a super player and he can look disastrous for three, four, five months,” Wenger said.
“If you buy a super machine, if you buy a Ferrari, from the first day it goes well – unless it’s a Russian who buys it and it breaks in two.
“But with a player, it’s not the same. Sometimes you need to be patient.”
Sancho has not transformed into a bad player since changing clubs. Once United have settled again – be it under Solskjaer or a new manager – fans will begin to see the best of their star signing.
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