The Question: Is There a Way Back For Jadon Sancho?


Jadon Sancho has returned to Manchester United’s matchday squad after spending nearly one month away due to illness, in the hopes of playing against Liverpool on Sunday after missing Wednesday’s clash against West Ham.

Rio Ferdinand’s harsh message to Jadon Sancho about reality may have been effective in sending a clear signal of reality: Is there hope for him yet?

Will he redeem himself?

Sancho has made an encouraging start at Manchester United, yet was not signed for over PS73million to merely “be solid.” To truly make his mark he needs to make an impression each and every week; something which has not happened yet.

He is most effective when paired with a fullback who can cover ground and advance the ball quickly – in this instance Luke Shaw and Diogo Dalot are effective partners.

Sancho hasn’t exactly been held to blame, but Erik ten Hag’s displeasure with him is evident. That doesn’t bode well for Sancho’s long-term future at Old Trafford and Rio Ferdinand has suggested it may ultimately force the winger out – with two years remaining on his current deal, it could come to an end should his improvement not increase significantly; Sancho has the talent necessary to make that change now.

Will he be able to force his way back?

Sancho knows there is only a matter of time until England will host another World Cup, so his goal should be to regain his spot within England’s squad and establish himself within Manchester United as quickly as possible before that momentous event takes place. Although Sancho clearly possesses both ability and ambition for such feats, it will require him to start strong at United before then.

His exclusion is certainly distressing, yet it serves as an additional motivator to strive harder than ever for inclusion back into the squad. Be it through playing time in the first team or off the bench, his efforts won’t stop to show why he deserves regular spots with national team.

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Erik ten Hag has stated that Sancho remains “a possibility” after missing Wednesday’s FA Cup victory against West Ham due to illness. A late fitness test will take place and hopefully Sancho can return in time for their visit to Anfield on Sunday.

Will he be able to stay at United?

Sancho struggled during his first year at United, holding up team flights for trips to Tottenham and being fined multiple times for not producing at his peak performance level. Still one of Europe’s finest under-23 players, he was welcomed back warmly when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was relieved and Erik ten Hag took charge.

Sancho entered this season with great expectations to ignite the Premier League with his speed and prolific form for Dortmund in 2022.

But he has failed to meet United’s expectations and is far removed from the player he was when United paid Dortmund PS73 million in 2021 for him. United may decide to cash out, only later wishing they had spent that money elsewhere.

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Will he be able to get back to his best?

After scoring his goal against Leeds on Sunday, Sancho has demonstrated his ability to have an immediate effect in the Premier League. He proved himself as a match-winner for United and could play an essential part in helping them secure one of the four European spots this year.

Manager Erik ten Hag has made it clear that they will not rush Sancho back into action and he will continue his individual training programme while also participating in group sessions. While Sancho is showing signs of improvement, it will take him some time before reaching his former heights again.

Sancho lives at the intersection of two worlds. He manages to navigate both modernity and his beliefs in chivalry without losing sight of who he is at heart – unlike Don Quixote he doesn’t share Don’s maddening devotion for virtue, instead believing more strongly in honour and kindness; thus becoming an influential character himself.