Life in Manchester is yet to come together for Jadon Sancho.
There have been sporadic moments of brilliance from the youngster — whose undoubted quality was harnessed by the folks at Borussia Dortmund, arguably the most consistent developers of elite attacking talent in European football — but he does not yet look like a £72.9million player for Manchester United.
In the last decade alone, Dortmund can look at Robert Lewandowski, Mario Gotze and Ousmane Dembele as names they have turned from promising talents to mega-money transfers. Sancho is the latest to step off the neverending conveyor belt after an impressive coming-of-age spell in the North Rhine region of Germany.
The 21-year-old had the privilege of going about his business in relative obscurity in the Bundesliga. Only the most committed football fans in the United Kingdom consumed more of his play than the occasional videos on social media displaying a marauding run or a brilliant finish. Now, he finds himself at the most-followed club in the most-followed football league on the planet, and pressure has mounted from critics who suggest it’s time for Sancho to be dropped.
Think of the recent cases of big-money flops attacking flops at United. Angel Di Maria, Alexis Sanchez, Memphis Depay. If there is one thing they all have in common, it is the lack of time they have been awarded to flourish under the beaming lights of Old Trafford.
And now think of other clubs who have afforded time to forwards who failed to set the world alight in their first few months in the Premier League. Tottenham almost sold Heung-min Son, Didier Drogba really struggled at Chelsea, even Thierry Henry took nine games to score his first goal at Arsenal. Patience can reap rewards.
I am not under any illusions about Sancho’s performances this season; they have been well under-par. Still, suppose Sancho is to find chemistry within a United attack that lacks an identity. In that case, there is no better time to do so than at the start of the season, whilst United are still trying to create a system that brings out the best in Cristiano Ronaldo whilst maintaining a balance in defence.
In addition, Sancho is the one player among United’s viable attacking options who has demonstrated his best football playing on the right wing. Aaron Wan-Bissaka is much maligned among sections of the United fanbase for his limitations in attack, though has not had a consistent partner on United’s right side.
If the former Dortmund man could find a run of form that justifies his continued selection in Solskjaer’s team, it will only benefit Wan-Bissaka, who demonstrates defensive capabilities that are incomparable to almost any full-back in European football. A more straightforward game, where Wan-Bissaka is expected to only support Sancho by providing overlapping runs, will benefit the full-back individually whilst bringing a balance to United’s attacking patterns.
With Marcus Rashford nearing a return to full fitness, competition on United’s left wing will grow ever more fierce, with Sancho splitting his time between either wing.
If the winger — who delivered a combined figure of 62 goal contributions in his last two seasons with Dortmund — can realise his considerable potential, Solskjaer can create a dynamic attack supported by two of the nation’s most exciting and devastating wide options; a hark back to the free-flowing forward lines under Sir Alex Ferguson.Internet Explorer Channel Network