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A solution for both sides – How Manchester United can resolve the Jadon Sancho situation



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It’s time to talk about that thing.

It’s been almost three months since the very public fallout occurred between Jadon Sancho and Erik ten Hag, with little progress being made with the situation since. The player is maintaining his stance, and the manager remains dedicated to his strict disciplinary procedures at Manchester United.

It has been like a hanging cloud of toxicity over what has been a conflicting season at Old Trafford, and it has been reported that should Sir Jim Ratcliffe take over as owner, one of the first items on his agenda is for the situation to be resolved.

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Right now there are no winners in this situation. A footballer is unable to play football, a manager has one less player at his disposal, the club has yet another drama surrounding it, and it is stressful for all parties involved.

Almost all are in agreement that Jadon Sancho is in the wrong for speaking out against his manager publicly and should apologise. From the player’s side, the concern looks to be the demand for any apology to be made public, seeing it as a form of embarrassment, not that the current situation isn’t.

However, whilst Ten Hag is right to be hard on disciplinary issues, the response has become slightly disproportionate. The English forward is not allowed to eat with his teammates, is being made to train alone, and currently has to change alone in a locked room in United’s academy complex at Carrington, for player safeguarding purposes.

He is allowed no interaction with his teammates during training hours, many of whom are close friends of his and people who played a part in his decision to join Manchester United in the first place.

Nobody rationally sees Sancho’s actions as acceptable or correct, and he should apologise and be disciplined appropriately for these. But the current method of discipline is not working, and this situation is helping nobody. Here, we discuss how it could potentially be resolved.

Sancho is a difficult player to move on, the finances that would be involved even in a loan are iffy for any European suitors and as of right now he reportedly has no desire to move to Saudi Arabia, preferring to remain in Europe if he was to move.

Freezing him out to the point of near-exile does not inspire him to come back with an apology, and Sancho is known to be a player who benefits from softer forms of love. This doesn’t mean Ten Hag should pander to him, but it is something that should be considered when trying to extract an apology from him.

United’s best solution, in my opinion, is to begin a process of reintegrating Sancho back into team training. It could start with training alongside the youth teams, working back to training with the main group based on performance, attitude, and behaviour.

To some, this may seem like a reward for poor behaviour. Rather it is the first step in trying to rebuild a relationship. Sometimes when people act out, pushing them further away only makes things worse. Whether he is to stay or not, United are not benefitting from this right now.

If that reintegration goes well, then rebuilding the personal relationship between Sancho and Ten Hag is the next step. Work towards coming to an amicable conclusion, which involves the player apologising for his actions – whether that apology is made public or not. Once an apology is made, they can talk about reintegrating him into match-day squads if improvement is seen in the areas that were initially criticised by Ten Hag after the game against Arsenal.

Even if Sancho is to leave the club in January, or more likely next summer, this issue cannot go on forever. At some point, United have to try to take a different approach to sort it out for the sake of everybody involved. The club still have a duty of care to the player regardless of what the current relationship is, and the situation is not helpful to them either.

Erik ten Hag is having less and less to worry about by the day at Manchester United, with key players returning from injuries and results improving. Resolving this situation would remove one of the season’s biggest burdens from his shoulders.

Sancho’s stance has been confusing to many, but in his absence, he has attended the under-18 games regularly – showing that he does still care about the club. He may have done wrong, but the harsh punishment route has clearly not worked. Now is the time to try a new approach, because the longer this situation goes on the more harmful it gets to all involved.