Jadon Sancho is said to be the king transfer from Manchester United, the Premier League club pays an enormous amount of money for the attacker. But then a lot turns out differently than expected – and now the players and the club are in trouble.
It doesn’t work for Jadon Sancho – and the Bundesliga is to blame for it. And that although the English winger no longer plays in Germany. Or rather: Because he no longer plays for Borussia Dortmund but for Manchester United, in the Premier League. This is the slightly abbreviated interpretation of England coach Gareth Southgate: “Dortmund are a big club, but Manchester United are one of the biggest in the world. You have to get used to that,” Southgate had said. “You definitely have to adapt to the league. You won’t even come close to achieving the goals and assists in our league as you would in the Bundesliga.”
One can say benevolently: Sancho clearly meets the expectations of his national coach. The 21-year-old, for whom Manchester United is transferring 85 million euros plus bonuses to Dortmund, is still without any goal participation after six Premier League and two Champions League games in the new shirt – after 20 scorer points (eight goals, twelve assists ) in his last Bundesliga season.
Southgate nominated his winger for the upcoming international matches of the European vice-champions. “Does he deserve to be in the squad after these performances over the last few weeks? Well, probably not. But we feel like we have invested in Jadon. We believe he can reach a high level,” said Southgate. Manchester United coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hit a similar notch as the national coach in mid-September. “Jadon is in the development phase,” Solskjaer said recently, “it was unfortunate that he was sick at the beginning and missed some of the preparation. He is 21 years old, he is learning the game, he is learning how we train, he is learning the way we play, he’s learning the Premier League. And he’s willing to learn. “
Ronaldo ensures “scary hours”
But Sancho’s difficulties also have to do with something else. Something that is bigger for Manchester United than he, on which they dug for so long and in the end paid so much money: Cristiano Ronaldo’s surprising return home after 13 years abroad. Years in which the Portuguese rose to become the greatest star in world football and whose arrival at Old Trafford outshines everything – and puts Sancho in the shade. Sancho himself tweeted “Scary Hours” around the announcement of the spectacular transfer. It was probably meant as a sign of excitement and anticipation, but the personnel made the situation even more complicated.
The arrival of the superstar has shifted the architecture of Manchester’s offensive significantly – to the detriment of Sancho, who is fighting with himself and the new league. “This is my club. This is where I belong,” said Sancho when he started work in a video that the club had distributed after his arrival. But now the search for a place for Sancho, where he belongs is currently unclear. Ronaldo usually acts as the only tip in Solskjaer’s 4-2-3-1, Mason Greenwood moved to the right wing – and Sancho, who should actually have pushed there, has to move to the less beloved left side or sit on the one Bank. Either at the beginning of the game or when it comes to the hot phase.
It has to be said so harshly: The return of the prodigal son degrades the actual king transfer Sancho to the footnote of the recent history of Man United. The competition on the offensive is enormous, with Bruno Fernandes, Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata, Greenwood and just Sancho, top professionals are fighting for a few places, with Marcus Rashford, who is recovering from a shoulder surgery, another top-class player is coming soon to. Paul Pogba can also play on the left in midfield. Nobody can afford a phase of weakness.
Actually, Ronaldo is a blessing for Sancho, because in the shadow of the legend, the “best winger in the world”, as Dietmar Hamann called him, can work on his return to old spheres in relative calm. Because Ronaldo has been working since day one and covers a whole range of difficulties that Sancho is far from dragging around alone. Man United are in fourth place in the Premier League with 14 points and only two points behind leaders Chelsea, but the ensemble playfully delivers a disappointing round. “The reason they are still doing relatively well in the league and are still in the Champions League is only because of Cristiano Ronaldo. It is impossible to imagine where they would be without his goals.”
“Jadon was exceptional”
In the Premier League, three goals in four games for Ronaldo are on the books. The Portuguese scored twice in the Champions League, most recently the fans celebrated him for the 2-1 winner against Villarreal in stoppage time. Sancho hadn’t been on the field for a long time, in too many of his 75 minutes he had demonstrated that he is not yet where he used to be. Even if his coach Solskjaer saw it completely differently: “Jadon was extraordinary, he was electrified. The audience loved him and I think he felt that connection,” said the Norwegian. “He was straightforward, positive and ran over the full-back several times. Yes, he hasn’t scored a goal, but I thought, ‘This is Jadon, we’ll see a lot more of that.'”
For Borussia Dortmund, he scored five goals in six Champions League matches in 2020/2021. But the truth is: At Solskjaer, Sancho is not the exciting high-speed free spirit that he was enthusiastic about in the big moments in Dortmund, with constant wing changes and tempo dribbles, which so often caused a goal risk. Solskjaer prefers to use the ex-Dortmund on the left, where he should form a duo with the actually aggressive Luke Shaw. So far, Shaw’s offensive excursions have been slowed down rather than encouraged when Sancho acts in front of him.
“Jadon embodies the type of player I want at this club. He’s an offensive player in the best tradition of Manchester United and will be an integral part of my squad in the years to come,” said Solskjaer enthusiastically at the beginning of the collaboration. Sancho’s statistics would “speak for themselves”, emphasized the Norwegian: “He will also bring incredible speed and creativity to our game.” The relationship between Sancho, Solskjaer and Manchester United currently does not really bring aspiration, potential and result together.
The criticism of the expensive newcomer is still comparatively mild on the island, probably also because Ronaldo’s important hits have so far averted at least one earnings crisis. United legend Roy Keane, who was otherwise too lenient and unsuspecting, once a midfielder and now a bit rough as a commentator, said at the end of September on Sky Sancho “is still learning his trade. He is still a young player with great expectations.” ” He had come to a new club, “in which he is certainly not the star and is lower in the ranking”. The 50-year-old sent a clear message afterwards: “Leave the boy alone. He has to adapt to all of this. Give him a chance.”
“This is not FIFA”
Keane’s former team-mate Paul Ince doesn’t understand that far: “I understand that Sancho is still learning. He’s still young. But this is not a FIFA game! It’s not just about dribbling and two, three, dancing out four players or doing little tricks and so on, “Ince told The United Stand, the club’s biggest fan channel, in a video interview. “Honestly, that makes me angry,” Ince continued. “Yeah, it’s nice when they work, but with players like Sancho and Lingard, I just keep thinking, all those tricks – just play decent football!”
It is extremely questionable whether Solskjaer will be able to accompany Sancho’s development back to old strength for a long time. The Norwegian, who has been in office since March 2019, has to fear for his job again, although the Champions League hero from the dramatic 1999 final against Bayern had recently led the club back to the top of the national team with third and second place. But the ideas of his expensive team are currently too far removed from the dreams of fans and owners. For Hamann, who once played for arch rivals Liverpool FC, the clock has already run out for the coach: “I think the coach will come under further pressure. I think it’s just a question of when they will change coach and not if, because it’s been there too long and because you can’t see any progress. ” The way Manchester played “is not nice to look at and it’s not Manchester United. That’s why I think there will be a change of coach sooner or later.”
“He’s such a great footballer”
Jadon Sancho is a player with incredible qualities, in England they hope to get the Bundesliga out of the 21-year-old and into the Premier League. In Dortmund, where they gave in to Man United’s desperate bid for a transfer after 18 months in the summer and paid dearly for it, they suffered with their ex-player. “Of course, I follow what he’s doing,” said BVB boss Hans-Joachim Watzke in a “double pass” at the end of September. “He’s such a great footballer. It hurts my soul that he’s not given so much attention.”
Sancho himself doesn’t talk about his situation. He doesn’t complain, he doesn’t advertise himself through the media. There is now talk of the national team: “I would like to spend some time with him to talk to him and to support the process that is underway at Manchester United,” announced national coach Southgate. “I think it is good news if he feels that we believe in him at this point.” Yes, Sancho needs some good news now that his “dream that has come true” has to feel like one of those dreams in which you just can’t move with heavy legs.