Former Arsenal coach Liam Brady has claimed that Alexis Sanchez is a difficult character to work with, labelling the Chilean as “a bit of a solo player”.
Sanchez has managed just one goal and two assists in his opening ten games for Manchester United, and was left out of the starting XI against Brighton and Hove Albion.
He admitted in an interview on Wednesday that he expected more of himself during the early stages of his Old Trafford career, noting he even considered pulling out of the Chile squad for internationals this weekend to put in some extra work at Carrington.
And Brady, who worked as Arsenal’s academy director until 2014, has claimed that the 29-year-old can be a difficult character to manage at times.
“From the information I have and what I know, Sanchez is not the easiest of characters on a day-to-day basis,” he said.
“He does his own thing and he is not part of the group, but all the other players forgave him for that because when he played for Arsenal he was outstanding in the early part of his career at Arsenal.
“He was an example to the Arsenal players for how hard you need to work in his early days, but going up to Manchester and being on that kind of wage compared to the other lads, you need to do as you are asked and do what the other players do. He has always been a bit of a solo player.
“Maybe he has not settled in Manchester. He may be looking around thinking he should not have gone there.”
This narrative of Sanchez being an estranged, despondent figure in the dressing room, sitting on his own in the canteen and walking around as if sleepwalking through a bad dream, has been inevitably fleshed out to oblivion by the Daily Mail. “Another Angel Di Maria” seems to be the line of choice.
Needless to say, this is laughable. He hasn’t even been at the club for two months and apparently finds himself in the throes of a fully fledged existential crisis. Give them an inch and they’ll cover everything in their bile, won’t they?
That said, it is not untrue that Sanchez is something of a solo figure – a man who seems to enjoy working out and being with his dogs more than anything else. He speaks very little English and rarely makes public appearances.
But this doesn’t translate to a problem for United. Professional sport, like any institution, contains a litany of introverts – people who, for whatever reason, don’t need a group mentality from which to derive motivation. Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta, for example, are known for being quiet individuals, yet that has absolutely no bearing on what they are like on the pitch.
And this, at present, is Sanchez’s task: what he decides to do off the pitch is not a concern; what matters, above anything, is that he connects with his players when he steps onto the pitch.