The tensions surrounding Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag and winger Jadon Sancho do not appear to have any resolution in sight, fears a legendary Red Devils striker, despite current star Victor Lindelof doing his best to deflect attention from the situation.
The £73m winger has struggled for form since moving to Old Trafford from Borussia Dortmund two summers ago, having only infrequently offered the Red Devils satisfaction at making him the fifth most expensive signing in their history.
Indeed, having scored just 12 goals over his first two seasons at the club and finding himself in and out of the side, Sancho was last season sent away to the Netherlands on an individual training programme away from his teammates.
And while Ten Hag has since gone public over the player’s battles with his mental health, he has since come back into the fold. Like any professional football, Sancho will have seen the start of the 2023/24 season as the chance of a fresh start.
Having been involved in the first three matches of the season, albeit off the bench, hopes were burning bright that Sancho would soon nail down a regular shirt.
But having been axed from the squad that lost 3-1 at Arsenal last Sunday, with Alejandro Garnacho and Facundo Pellistri named ahead of him on the bench, Ten Hag suggested Sancho had fallen below the required standards in training.
Sancho, though, far from happy at the claim, went public on X by hitting out at Ten Hag over his scapegoating and suggesting his manager may have been fabricating the truth.
Amid the wreckage of that mess, talk was brewing that a lucrative move to Saudi Arabia could be on the cards.
Victor Lindelof deflects attention off Jadon Sancho situation
Ultimately, that significant and tempting offer from Saudi was to ultimately hit the buffers for Sancho with his suitors Al-Ettifaq ultimately calling the move off.
However, much has since been said and written over Sancho’s future at United, and it is clear that some groundwork needs to be done to smooth over tensions and clear up the mess surrounding the player.
United’s players have declined to comment on the saga so far during international duty, but one man in Lindelof has broken rank to pass some comment, though in doing so has done his best to deflect attention off his teammate.
“Sancho? Many things are written about United and it will always be like that. We are a united group. I don’t think about it,” Lindelof, away on international duty with Swedem, stated.
“I love Manchester United and I still have a contract. So I can say that my exit this summer wasn’t close at all,” he added, while commenting on speculation he too was close to leaving this summer.
One man who doesn’t know which way the saga will unfold, though, is former United striker Andy Cole.
Asked by Betfred if this is the beginning of the end for Sancho, Cole stated: “I don’t know. I’ve seen all the reports and I’ve giggled at some of the more ridiculous ones, but it all depends on how people want to perceive this situation.
“If Sir Alex Ferguson ever had a problem with a player, it didn’t leave the dressing room. So you can argue that Erik ten Hag has come out and said something negative about his player and he didn’t have to do that. If he didn’t say anything, then nobody’s getting wind of this situation.
“However, now he’s made the situation public, Jadon has now come out to defend himself.”
Cole hits out at Man Utd over winger’s situation
Cole added: “Manchester United haven’t started the season in a good way and Erik ten Hag didn’t need to create another distraction that the club doesn’t need. It just didn’t need to happen.
“All the publicity surrounding the club at the moment is negative and it can have an adverse reaction on the players because people just expect them to get their heads down and play football, but of course this negativity is going to affect them.
“Everybody is looking to the players to pull the club out of the doldrums and now they have added pressure on their shoulders because if they don’t start getting results, then everybody’s going to start complaining that the players aren’t helping the situation either.
“It’s such a precarious situation to be in and it’s something that the club needs to find themselves out of immediately if they’re going to start winning football matches.”
Cole feels the saga with Sancho is just the latest situation at United and believes the club needs to ask more questions of themselves.
“You can look at it from both sides,” he added.
“When you buy a footballer, you buy the player with the intention of getting the best out of them and from the player’s perspective, they’re aiming to get the best out of the football club. That’s the way football works.
“If Sancho leaves, then people are going to question whether Manchester United did enough to help Jadon realise his potential. In football, everybody heaps the attention on the players if things don’t work out well, but you need to ask why it didn’t work out.
Legend asking some hard questions of Man Utd
“Using Paul Pogba as an example, the media and the fans always reflect on whether they believe a player’s arrogant or believes that they’re better than they actually are.
“However, a club with the stature of Manchester United buys a player because they believe they’re one of the best players in the world and they’re going to improve their team and they bought Jadon Sancho because they believe he’s a really good player.
“If it doesn’t work out for Jadon at Manchester United, then why didn’t it work out? Is it just down to the player or is it down to the football club as well?
“Manchester United have made a number of marquee signings that haven’t worked out, so why does this keep happening?”
Sancho is contracted to United until summer 2026 with the club holding a one-year option on that deal.