Jadon Sancho completed his loan move to Borussia Dortmund yesterday after being exiled at Manchester United since early September.
The Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas decorations have all been taken out and put away again and the New Year has been rung in. In all this time, Jadon Sancho has not kicked a ball in anger since his public spat with United coach, Erik ten Hag, emerged on social media.
Pundit opinion has been divided on the issue with some coming out in support of the Man United manager’s stance and others sympathising with the Englishman.
Pundit Kieron Dyer claims that he saw a “red flag” in Sancho’s behaviour when he was playing for Manchester City’s youth team and just “gave up” on his team during a game.
Additionally, Mario Basler has claimed that his former side Bayern Munich would never bring in a player with such disciplinary problems.
However, others been in the winger’s corner. Former player, Jamie O’Hara, claimed back in September that United’s treatment of Sancho was “disgusting”.
What’s more, Chris Sutton has argued that Sancho will outlast Ten Hag at United due to the Red Devils’ erratic form to date.
Will this turn out to be true?
Some have suggested that the reason the club have not included a buy option in the loan deal is so that they can reassess the situation in the summer, drawing parallels to the Mason Greenwood situation.
It is possible that Erik Ten Hag will be sacked, with the club looking unlikely to qualify for the Champions League as things stand as they languish in eighth place and nine points off the top four.
A loss on Sunday against Tottenham could almost extinguish their hopes of a top four spot in January. As Louis van Gaal knows, even if the club wins the FA Cup, it likely won’t be enough to save the Dutchman’s job.
However, with new owners coming in, it has been suggested that the penny has finally dropped and that the club’s issues run much deeper than the manager.
Sir Jim Ratcliffe is said to be a fan of the Dutchman’s work and understands the complex situation he has found himself in due to an enormous, never-ending injury list and chaos created by the 13-month wait for new owners to be announced.
Jadon Sancho, on the other hand, is an interesting case. Many fans were obsessed with his signing and social media exploded when the former Manchester City youth product was eventually signed in the summer of 2021.
The player was electric in Germany and scored 50 goals in 137 appearances. However, for numerous reasons, it has not worked out in Manchester.
The England international has seen his stock fall rapidly and he has only scored 12 goals in 82 appearances for the Red Devils. He has not been able to adapt his game to the Premier League and has never really had a consistent run in the team.
If the player had been on form and contributing, perhaps more fans would have sided with the Englishman but he does not have much credit in the bank with the supporters.
No such poll could be accurately undertaken but it would be surprising if Sancho had more sympathy with the Old Trafford faithful than the manager.
As suggested earlier, Sancho has always had disciplinary and attitude problems that were seen at City and Dortmund. It will be fascinating to see if this time around he can overcome them.
There may be a space for Sancho to come into the United team in the future with Antony looking like he will never adapt to English football, Facundo Pellistri likely to be sold and Mason Greenwood probably never returning.
However, Alejandro Garnacho has deputised admirably on the right wing, winning the club’s player of the month award, and despite a plethora of missed chances, fans are getting excited by the trio of Rasmus Hojlund, Marcus Rashford and the young Argentine.
Two matches are not a big sample size but the three created copious amount of chances versus Aston Villa and Wigan recently.
Amad Diallo may also have a say in who will take up the right wing spot and seems highly rated by the Dutch coach.
Moreover, when the Red Devils can spend more in the summer, they are also likely to look towards the right wing as an area to invest in. This has seen the club linked to La Liga duo Yeremy Pino and Takefusa Kubo.
To conclude, Sancho is unlikely to find a path back to the Manchester United first team. It is possible that the Englishman takes to the Bundesliga like a duck to water and returns to being the player he was. However, it could certainly be sensibly argued he won’t.
Even so, when a player has been happy to sit on the sidelines watching his team struggle with injuries and form, they will not garner much sympathy.
Additionally, the player lacks the success at Old Trafford to build much credit with the fans. Even if Ten Hag is sacked, a new manager may want to cut ties with an erratic player.
There is also of course a good chance Ten Hag will be kept on as manager and it is very hard to imagine a scenario where he could or would ever integrate Sancho back into the team.