The Sun (Malaysia)

Cause for concern

Sancho spat heaps pressure on Ten Hag to reverse losing trend


Wnews got through to Manchester United officials of Jadon Sancho’s social media post – which, of course, took mere seconds – the feeling was that Erik ten Hag had already said all he was going to say on it.

The situation will now be dealt with internally, although a lot is left hanging outside the club.

The Dutch coach made it clear that Sancho had not met the standards required in training. There has been a feeling from some around United that he “had his head turned” from interest elsewhere, although an approach from Chelsea was denied.

Those who know the player are meanwhile fairly wondering why Old Trafford isn’t seeing the Borussia Dortmund version of Sancho, where his attitude was never questioned.

For the moment, it just looks one more waste of an expensive move, to go with how the team United put out on Sunday felt much less than what has been invested in the squad. It’s also one more issue, as if everything is going against them right now.

Ten Hag had already complained how every decision went against them in that same press conference after the 3-1 defeat to Arsenal, before another trend was put to him.

That result was Manchester United’s ninth loss in their last 11 games away to teams in the top half of the table, in what has felt a stagnation since the League Cup-winning high under the

Dutch coach.

There are admittedly caveats, as Ten Hag pointed out: it looks bad if you “look at the result”. He had earlier claimed the “performanc­e was right”.

There is merit to Ten Hag’s argument and, against an Arsenal team who are further along in where they want to be and are bound to dominate play at home, it could be said he got it tactically right.

Amid an injury crisis, United reduced the game to the tightest margins: an almost impercepti­bly thin offside; a winning goal deep into stoppage time.

The bigger question is why it is so often this type of performanc­e, and this type of result. That is where the tight margins grow into something bigger.

It is why there can be concerns even with the caveats, especially since those caveats did not apply to all of those away games.

United still struggle to impose themselves in these matches. That goes much further and deeper than admittedly missing most of your main defenders and having to persist with the unfulfille­d Anthony Martial in attack.

They are also a club that knows better than anyone that breaks tend to go your way the more you attack, the more you have the ball around the opposition box.

It must be galling for anyone associated with United to hear Mikel Arteta, rather than their manager, be asked about the spirit behind late matchwinni­ng goals.

The overall sense is still of a team that is seeking to execute an idea but only occasional­ly does so with real conviction.

There is a lightness to the side. Some have started to talk about a “lack of connection” between Ten

Hag and some players, and that may be reflected in the Sancho situation.

The flip side is that is exactly what squads start to say in any loss of form. A few good results and it all changes.

Ten Hag is still only a year in. He is going through an injury crisis. There have been thrilling performanc­es that show what is possible.

Two key players in and it all might fit again, as happened with Casemiro last season. The attack did look better with Hojlund as a focal point, something they have lacked. Sofyan Amrabat will go right into the team and add the midfield ballast they clearly need.

But they may also need to change their approach to games like this. Otherwise, these trends are unlikely to change. – The Independen­t

 ?? ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia