Although everyone’s favourite player to watch when on form, Jadon Sancho is still playing within himself. It has got to the stage where Erik ten Hag should drop the winger from Manchester United’s starting lineup.
But after several chances and several lacklustre performances, Sancho seems reluctant to perform to the levels he displayed at Borussia Dortmund. During United’s marvellous victory over Tottenham Hotspur, Sancho was perhaps the only player in the team who was not a contender for Player of the Match.
After misplacing a pass, Ten Hag quickly brought on Fred in place of Sancho tonight against Chelsea. With United searching for a crucial goal, this substitution was an indictment on the 22-year-old’s performances this season and a signal of Ten Hag’s dissatisfaction.
Alejandro Garnacho and Facundo Pellistri watched on as Ten Hag opted to stabilise his midfield rather than make a like-for-like swap. They should now be given the chance to show their abilities in United’s forward line.
Ten Hag has made it a point this season that he chooses players based on form – as evidenced by the persistent picking of Scott McTominay over Casemiro in September, even when it was perhaps unsuitable to do so.
So it should now be the clearest opportunity to give the young forwards a first team start given Sancho’s severe lack of form over recent matches.
Sancho has averaged 0.4 shots on target, 0.7 successful dribbles, and 0.1 crosses per game this season. He has created 0 big chances. It is time for others to be tested in the left-wing position.
Garnacho and Pellistri are not to be sniffed at either in terms of their calibre. Pellistri is a permanent fixture in Uruguay’s golden generation squad and Garnacho led United to the FA Youth Cup title.
If they are not to be given a chance to showcase their talent and value in a position crying for rejuvenation for a manager famed for his ability to develop young players, then when will they?
Anthony Elanga showed more drive, confidence, and attacking impetus than Sancho during his cameo this evening; should the Swede consequently be drafted back into the starting eleven for the coming matches?
If Ten Hag is still hesitant in trying out the South American youngsters or give Elanga a real shot at left wing, then he should consider pushing Marcus Rashford back out wide.
Rashford had become one of the best inside left forwards in the League three seasons ago. With his lack of ruthlessness and success in front of goal as United’s centre forward, it may be time to move him into his favoured position. He scored 18 goals and assisted 12 on the left wing during the 2019/20 season, and scored 11 from this position the following year.
The dilemma involved in reinstating Rashford to left wing, however, is the lack of strikers at the club.
With the Cristiano Ronaldo debacle in full swing and Anthony Martial still on the sidelines , Charlie McNeill and Joe Hugill appear to be the only other fit out-and-out number nines available at the club.
Whatever the case, this Chelsea fixture has indicated that Ten Hag needs to rework his forward line and experiment with his options for upcoming games. And he may just have to dip into United’s illustrious pool of young talent.