I’ve been completely calm about this whole saga throughout the summer because this deal was never going to get done before the September international break anyway.
Of course that wasn’t good enough for Manchester United fans. They wanted the deal done in August. They were screaming how important it was to get business done early and to get Sancho in for preseason blah blah blah.
That’s all hogwash, most importantly because Manchester United didn’t even have a preseason this year. It’s September 9th and some United players still haven’t reported to Carrington. The first day with the full squad isn’t until September 10th.
The Sancho deal dragging on this long actually allowed him to stay with Borussia Dortmund for their preseason and play in preseason friendlies. He’s now better prepared for the upcoming season then he would have been if he came to United in August!
That means the clock on this deal starts now. You want Sancho to get in and get as much time as possible with his new teammates then you want him to be signed by September 10th.
If he isn’t signed by then, that’s ok too! Though I should say that is with the huge caveat that it’s only ok provided he is signed before United’s first match against Crystal Palace. Make no mistake, not getting the deal done before the start of the season is a complete and unacceptable failure.
I’m not too confident the deal will get done today. I think Borussia Dortmund are going to hold on to Sancho and play him against Duisburg in their DFB Cup match this Monday. That’ll reinforce their “we’re planning on having Sancho this season” stance that they’ve publicly held and it’ll force Sancho to finally start publicly pushing for a move.
I think Sancho will finally do that and the move will be pushed through Wednesday or Thursday.
That’ll give him 2-3 days of training with his new teammates before United’s first match. That’s not a lot but, that’s OK too for two reasons.
1. Sancho is good enough to walk right into the XI even without getting to know his teammates
2. Sancho probably wouldn’t be in the starting XI anyway.
Whoa, that’s a bold statement but Sancho starting his first match on the bench would be far from irregular.
It happens throughout football but United’s history is full of their new star signing being left on the bench for their first match. Cristiano Ronaldo came off the bench in his first Premier League match. Robin van Persie started on the bench too. Henrik Mkhitaryan waited three games before getting his first start. Luke Shaw was a record signing and was still plopped on the bench for two games even after he returned to fitness.
Solskjaer’s recent history suggests that he’d do the same. In United’s first match after the lockdown Paul Pogba was left on the bench. The rumblings that it was because he had been injured don’t stand up too much when you consider that Marcus Rashford was in the XI, and he’d been out for just two fewer weeks than Pogba – and that Pogba was slated to return against Tottenham before the lockdown.
No, Solskjaer went with McTominay, Fred, and Daniel James because they were the team that played in the first half of the season. He was giving them a chance to show they shouldn’t lose their place.
Starting Jadon Sancho on the bench would send two messages to United’s squad:
1. That the club is behind Mason Greenwood after his England transgressions
2. That everyone has to earn their place in the team
Right now there is nothing wrong with United’s first choice XI. If United were playing in a cup final tomorrow, you’d be comfortable with picking that XI (you know, assuming they were all rested).
United do need upgrades but they really need upgrades on their depth. Adding a Jadon Sancho and thus dropping a Mason Greenwood or Marcus Rashford to the bench certainly helps accomplish that.
Keeping Sancho on the bench that first game sends a message to the team that no one just walks into the XI. You have to earn your place.
That’s a good message to send and it’s not a difficult one to pull off. You bring Sancho on for a half hour in the first game and say ‘well he played well so let’s give him a start next week.’ Then when he plays well again you just… keep him in the XI.
If say both Rashford and Greenwood bag braces in a 4-0 win over Crystal Palace then maybe you’d see Sancho on the bench again the following week against Brighton. If that happens… that’s a good thing! If Greenwood and Rashford are keeping Jadon Sancho out of the XI they must be playing really well. Squad competition is good!
At the moment, none of United’s first choice XI deserve to be dropped. It’s a far different situation to when Bruno Fernandes arrived in January. The Portuguese walked right into the XI because at the time, Solskjaer didn’t even have 11 players that were demanding places in the team. Andreas Pereira and Jesse Lingard were just playing because the other one deserved to be dropped.
Fernandes’ impact was immediate, even if United didn’t win his first game. That’s because Fernandes, like Sancho is really good, and like I said, players that talented typically don’t have an issue with walking into a team despite never having played with their teammates before.
Given how Solskjaer managed that Tottenham match it stands to reason that he won’t drop them. Having a Sancho looking over their shoulder is a strong message to the XI that they need to perform to keep their place.
As such, the clock to sign Sancho starts now. The time to panic isn’t for at least another week. Let’s get the deal done and it will all be all right.