The Rise, Fall and Future of Jadon Sancho


The past week has really brought Jadon Sancho back into the football headlines, but not for the right reasons. The Manchester United winger has been at the centre of a spat between himself and manager Erik ten Hag after being left out of the side against Arsenal.

Off-field dramas seem to be following Man United around like a bad smell in 2023. Sancho finds himself in third in terms of controversy, firmly behind both Mason Greenwood and Antony. That being said, Sancho’s case is a lot simpler than his two teammates’, so we’re going to cover it this week.

So, what has happened with Sancho? Who is in the right? And what’s likely to happen going forward for both United and who should’ve been one of their star players by now?

The Rise, Fall and Future of Jadon Sancho

Old Trafford is a long way from paradise, but there is definitely trouble in it heading into this international break. What appeared to be a routine question for ten Hag has since blown up into one of the biggest football talking points of the week.

Before the match against Arsenal, ten Hag was asked why Sancho wasn’t included in the Red Devils’ squad at the Emirates. The Dutchman explained that the Englihsman hadn’t been good enough in training. That seemed to be the end of that, but then the Tweet happened.

Sancho Tweeted after the match; “Please don’t believe everything you read! I will not allow people saying things that is completely untrue, I have conducted myself in training very well this week. I believe there are other reasons for this matter that I won’t go into, I’ve been a scapegoat for a long time which isn’t fair!”

Strong words. Pundits, journalists and former United players are split on who is in the wrong on this one. United’s current players are largely backing their manager, reportedly being angered by Sancho’s retaliation.

Louis Saha, meanwhile, believes that ten Hag was “wrong” to call out Sancho. Rio Ferdinand thinks that ten Hag’s words are actually meant to be a motivating factor for Sancho. Ten Hag, though, is sticking to his guns and refusing to back down.

Something that can’t be denied though, is that it’s yet another example of Manchester United being unable to keep their house in order.

The Rise

It’s not long ago that Sancho was rightfully rated as one of the hottest young prospects in European football. After all, you don’t earn a £73m move to the Premier League for being mediocre. So, why was Sancho so highly-rated?

After joining Watford as a child, Sancho joined Manchester City’s academy in 2015 at the age of 15. By 17, he was, in his mind at least, good enough to make the Citizens’ first team, but wasn’t included in their pre-season tour.

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Sancho tried to engineer a move away from the Etihad Stadium and Borussia Dortmund swept in to make one of the most financially successful transfers of all-time. Der BVB paid around £7m for the teenager and Sancho wasted no time in proving that he was right to feel ready for first team action.

12 appearances and his first goal in 2017-18 was followed up with 50 goals in 137 appearances over the next three seasons, a strike rate of almost one goal every other game. That’s all while providing dozens of assists for a young Erling Haaland up front as well.

Sancho’s efforts also saw him get his first England cap in 2018 and be a key member of Southgate’s Euro 2020 squad on their run to the final.

The Fall

2021-22 was meant to be the start of Sancho kicking on and becoming a legend in his home country. A move to Old Trafford should’ve shown City what they let go and the mistake they made. However, that hasn’t happened and if anything, The Sky Blues have been proven right about Sancho.

While Sancho was playing fairly regularly for United, to say he has been consistent wouldn’t be true. 12 goals in 82 appearances so far would have him rightfully labeled as a “flop”, especially given the size of the transfer fee that was paid for his services.

In his defence, Sancho has had injury problems and suffered with his mental health at times during the last three seasons. He has also shown his quality as well, some of his goals showcased why Man United paid over 70 million for him.

Admittedly, in a team full of quality players, it is harder to stand out. Defences in England are harder to crack than those in Germany and Manchester United’s strikers over the past few seasons have left a lot to be desired. Still though, Sancho hasn’t even come close to justifying his price tag.

The Future

Some have compared Sancho’s situation to what happened with Cristiano Ronaldo when ten Hag joined Manchester United. While there are some parallels to be drawn, there are a number of significant differences between this and Ronaldo.

For a start, Ronaldo is heading towards the end of his career, he wasn’t at the peak of his powers at 37 in the Premier League. Ronaldo is also historically one of the best players in football history and had won everything at club level, he had nothing to prove.

Whether you agree with it or not, Ronaldo’s decision to go to Saudi Arabia isn’t a surprise, especially in hindsight. Sancho, though, is 23 and won’t even be close to his prime yet. If Jadon is to reach his potential, he has to move away from Old Trafford.

His Tweet has effectively ended his Manchester United career, there is no coming back from what he’s said. If you said what Sancho said to your boss in front of everybody at work, you’d be packing your stuff up and leaving your desk for the last time by the end of the day.

Sancho has fallen out of favour with Gareth Southgate and England as well, and it’ll be a crying shame if the thing he’s remembered most in an England shirt for is missing one of the penalties against Italy.

So, who’s at fault here? Well, personally, I think that ten Hag was wrong to state that Sancho was training poorly in public, that should’ve stayed behind closed doors. However, Sancho lashing out on social media like that was inappropriate and shows a complete lack of respect for his club, manager and teammates.

It’s even worse when you consider that up until that point, ten Hag had been relatively supportive of Sancho, including giving him time off to recover his mental health in the Netherlands last season.

The best thing for everybody would be for Sancho to leave in the January transfer window. To where? That’s anybody’s guess, but he’s a supremely talented footballer that a lot of clubs will be very happy to take a chance on.

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