The rising tensions between Jadon Sancho and Erik ten Hag have been explained by an insider, while the Manchester United boss has been told he is losing a “high stakes game of poker” over the winger.
The 23-year-old star has been frozen out by United after publicly falling out with Ten Hag following a 3-1 defeat to Arsenal at the start of the month. The Dutchman, a strict disciplinarian, has removed Sancho from the first-team picture after the winger claimed he has been ‘scapegoated’ by his manager, whom he also accused of not telling the truth over his omission from the squad against the Gunners.
Since then, Sancho has been forced to train alone and has not been considered for the club’s previous two matches; both of which have resulted in defeats. Now United head to Burnley on Turf Moor on Saturday evening, needing a win to arrest a run of three successive losses.
But once again, they will do so without Sancho in tow.
As it stands, there appears no way back for Sancho. Per reports, United are making it known they are willing to cash in on the £73m star for what is likely to be a knockdown price.
And while the player has since taken down the social media post that criticised his manager, he is reportedly yet to apologise for his actions to his manager both publicly and privately.
Until there is a public admission that what he said was wrong, it seems Ten Hag will not let the player be considered for first-team games.
And with the team in the midst of a poor run of form, pressure on Ten Hag’s position has also been cranked up too.
Ten Hag problems revealed by Man Utd insider
Behind the scenes, there are claims about player dissatisfaction and disgruntlement in the dressing room, all of which have done little to ease tensions.
Doing his best to dampen those claims, Ten Hag stated: “I don’t know if it’s a leak but I know opinion, I know my players. Everyone can make suggestions, we are OK with it.”
When asked about Sancho himself, Ten Hag offered a brief update on the player’s exclusion and how he can return to the squad.
“It depends on him,” said Ten Hag. “For the rest, we are preparing for Burnley and that’s our focus. He will not be in the squad.”
Meanwhile, talkSPORT presenter Alan Brazil has suggested Sancho’s problems with Ten Hag are somewhat self-inflicted with the player’s ongoing tardiness a big issue for the manager.
And Brazil claims that a former United player has told him that Sancho is always late for training and is a constant irritation to Ten Hag.
Speaking in talkSPORT, (06.26, September 22, 2023), Brazil stated: “Someone was telling me, I can’t verify it, but someone was telling me, an ex-player, that he has been a bit naughty, he turns up late all the time, he is irritating the manager, and the manager has got enough problems at the moment with what’s going on at the club, and the hierarchy have enough problems at the moment.
“He doesn’t need this, Ten Hag.”
Jadon Sancho exit talk gathers pace at Man Utd
With Cristiano Ronaldo recently going down a similar path at Old Trafford and eventually leaving the club, the future does look bleak for Sancho at United.
However, United’s chances of getting a decent fee for the player have been damaged by Ten Hag’s decision to bring the dispute into the public eye, which one observer in Kevin Kilbane insists should have been kept in-house.
And writing in his column for the Irish Times, Kilbane feels airing the club’s dirty washing in public has only served to add more pressure on Ten Hag himself.
“After successfully removing Cristiano Ronaldo from the club last November, Erik Ten Hag earned a level of control at Man United not seen since Ferguson was in charge,” Kilbane stated.
“Then he went and ruined it by allowing a spat with Sancho to spill into the media. Or social media, via the player’s tweets.
“Plenty has been written about Sancho but Ten Hag has effectively labelled him as a lazy footballer. The tag of being ‘unprofessional’ will follow him around. It could reduce his value and earning potential.
“This is high-stakes poker. When Ten Hag would have been advised to check or fold, and wait for a bigger pot or better hand, he decided to show everyone his style of management.”
Kilbane continued: “Problems at the club are lengthy, from disciplinary issues to ownership bumbling the sale to a nation state or a British billionaire. Now, Ten Hag has allowed the Sancho story to grow legs just as his squad stumble into Turf Moor and a potential landmine against winless Burnley.”
Ten Hag told he’s overplayed his hand
He added: “Ten Hag’s time at United could come down to how he has handled this situation. The ‘direct Dutch’ excuses won’t cut it.
“Players have seen how Ronaldo was discarded and now Sancho is the problem. Eventually, especially if results continue to reflect how much money has been poorly spent to build this team, the common denominator will be the manager’s communication skills.
“I am sure that Sancho wants to be the alpha dog at Man United and for England. He wants to be considered the best player in the world. His talent only points in that direction. Of course, it has not happened for him in recent seasons, but when a manager criticises you so publicly your confidence can shatter.
“I’m sure this was a last resort by Ten Hag. I’m sure Sancho was given this message face-to-face. I’m also positive that the manager has messed up.
“Ten Hag overplayed his hand.”
Sancho is contracted to United until summer 2026, with the club holding a one-year option on that deal. He has nine goals and six assists from 58 Premier League appearances for the club during that time.