Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has let Jadon Sancho know who is boss in truly ruthless terms in a stern message that leaves his career with the Red Devils hanging by a thread.
The 23-year-old has struggled to justify the huge £73m fee United paid to Borussia Dortmund for his services in summer 2021 after a lengthy two-year chase. Rarely hitting the heights he had previously shown in the Bundesliga, Sancho has managed just 12 goals in his two seasons to date at Old Trafford.
Now, after claiming he’s fed up of being ‘scapegoated’ by his manager and accusing the Dutchman of not being honest about his reasons for leaving him out of the squad that lost 3-1 to Arsenal, it seems his time at the club could be over as a result of the fall-out that has since ensued.
Meetings between the duo have failed to see differences setlled, while interest from Al-Ettifaq late in the Saudi Arabian transfer window almost saw the player make an unexpected departure. To that end, it has been claimed United were more than willing to let Sancho leave having named their price for his sale.
Ten Hag is a strict disciplinarian. Those who question his authority – Cristiano Ronaldo being another recent example – usually end up learning the hard way that you go up against Ten Hag at your peril.
Unfortunately for Sancho, his prospects do not look good with a number of observers predicting the end of the line for the player at Old Trafford.
Ten Hag lets Jadon Sancho know who is boss at Man Utd
Ironically, Sancho’s fall-out comes at a time when one of his main rivals for a place in the side, Brazilian winger Antony, has also been withdrawn from the selection pool as he considers his response against a serious allegations made by his former girlfriend.
However, Sancho’s chances of seeing action for United again appear extremely bleak after Ten Hag’s latest comments on the player.
Letting the winger know who is boss, the United manager has scathingly sent the player a firm message that suggests there can be no way back for him at Old Trafford.
Asked directly whether Sancho would pull on the United shirt again, Ten Hag said: “I don’t know. I am sitting here. [Saturday] we have a big game, we are going into a new block of games, many games in a condensed programme. I focus on that.”
On how long the disciplinary process might last, the Dutchman replied: “I don’t know but, as I say, I don’t think about that. I think about [Saturday]. I think about the way the team has to progress. I have a lot to consider to make the right decisions.
“He is not available, so in this moment, he is not important, because he can’t contribute.”
Ten Hag, however, was not done and insists the issue with Sancho may just be the tip of the iceberg.
Admitting he inherited a club with a “no good culture” when he took charge last summer, the Dutchman is adamant he will do things his way at Old Trafford and insists the focus has to be on the team and not Sancho.
“It’s in favour of the team. That is what my decision is based on,” he said.
Ten Hag adamant Man Utd come before Sancho
“That is not about me, and to be strict. No. This is in favour of the team. I don’t think about that (Sancho’s tweet) and I don’t talk about that, because I have to win a game. It is all about that.
“The players who are there and available deserve me. I have to guide them, I have to prepare them, it is about that. I only focus on the players who are available.
“It is also not about me, it is about the team and the club. I put my energy into giving the best performance against Brighton.
“As a club, as a team we have to deal with that. But once again it is no importance to the coming games, I have to put my energy so that the team play their best tomorrow, in a week, the coming period. I have to focus on that.”
The falling out with Sancho is the latest in a long line of misdemeanours that have haunted United in recent years. Now the manager is claiming he needs to install better discipline at Old Trafford.
Ten Hag concluded: “Strict lines is what the club asked me because there was no good culture before I entered last season, so to set good standards, that is what I did and it is my job to control the standards.
“Of course, it is never someone only makes one mistake, it is a whole process before you come to a certain outcome about strict lines.
“If staff or players or whoever, there is a structure to cross lines so you have to be strong.”
Sancho’s contract with United is not due to end until summer 2026, with the Red Devils retaining an extra year. At this stage, it would take a remarkable U-turn for the club to either extend his stay or at the least trigger that one-year option.