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Jadon Sancho’s magical Champions League performance highlights yet another problem INEOS must fix at Manchester United



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Jadon Sancho was the Man of the Match in the Champions League semi-final first-leg between Paris Saint-Germain and Borussia Dortmund.

It was a blockbuster European contest on Wednesday evening despite the 1-0 scoreline, and the main man on the night wasn’t Kylian Mbappe, but instead Jadon Sancho.

Manchester United were knocked out of the tournament in the group stage after finishing bottom of their group. Yet, the player who was isolated from Erik ten Hag’s squad for much of that campaign is one step away from the final at Wembley.

How has that happened?

For many United supporters—and certainly Ten Hag—it was a decision that had to be made. Sancho publicly criticized his manager when he released a statement on social media.

The winger essentially labelled Ten Hag a liar after the Dutchman claimed Sancho’s training performance was the reason he was left out of United’s squad to face Arsenal at the beginning of September.

Yet, the problem for Sancho came long before that situation occurred.

Over the last decade, Manchester United have signed world-class players, emerging talents, Premier League-proven, European or non-European players. You name it, United have bought it.

But so many of those players come and struggle. Recruitment has been the major problem. United fans are wondering why they’re signing Golden Boy Anthony Martial, and he’s failing. They’re wondering why they signed the most exciting talent in Europe, Jadon Sancho, and he’s failing.

The simple answer is that these players haven’t been given the correct environment at Old Trafford. Then other problems come along.

From the moment Sancho came in at United, it was clear that there was no real idea how they would get the best out of his strengths. An absolutely unbelievable link-up player is suddenly dragged into situations where he has no runners and must sprint past a full-back.

Then when the magic doesn’t come. Confidence slowly drains. Confidence is a drug in football that any player or manager would bottle up if they could.

Sancho completed 12 take-ons against PSG, the most of any player in the semi-finals of the Champions League for eight seasons. He created three chances, with one of them being considered a ‘big chance’ – when he slipped a smart pass in behind for striker Niclas Füllkrug.

The 24-year-old didn’t simply find a burst of pace that he never had at Old Trafford. Instead, he had a combination of runners, movement and confidence.

Football has always been a simple game. Have eleven players who are all comfortable and excel in the roles they are put in.

And whilst that isn’t always possible. When you are scouting a player for multiple years and paying over £70 million for him; It should be.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe and INEOS have already started their changes at Old Trafford. Jason Wilcox and Dan Ashworth will eventually be leading on the recruitment front, and Sancho is the latest example that they must look at when they consider the recruitment problems at the club in recent years.

Perhaps, if this process is fixed at United, supporters may be surprised when these superstar talents don’t crumble at the Theatre of Dreams.