Jadon Sancho’s breach of trust lands Erik ten Hag with old Manchester United issue – Isaac Johnson

Jadon Sancho was struggling for form in the final months of 2022 after an impressive start to his United season. Goals against Liverpool, Leicester and FC Sheriff in the first six weeks had fans hoping the winger would be getting to his best Bundesliga form under Erik ten Hag.

But as subsequent weeks elapsed, Sanchos levels dipped and he ultimately reverted back to the player that struggled in his maiden season. His laboured showing against Chelsea in October saw him hooked seven minutes after half-time. He didnt play again until January.

Sancho was sent off to complete individual training over the festive season after failing to make the England squad for the World Cup. “We didnt see him in the last games for United as he wasnt in the right fitness state and he is now on an individual programme, Ten Hag explained in December.

In the start of the season he had goals and assists but his key moments and key actions became less and less. It&aposs a combination of physical but also mental. We&aposre trying to research and get him back.”

His return as a substitute in the League Cup semi-final second-leg win over Nottingham Forest was one of the most heart-warming memories of last season. That beaming smile from Sancho and pat on the back from Ten Hag as Old Trafford got to its feet to give an amazing ovation look a distant memory now.

Sanchos astonishing social media response statement to Ten Hag leaving him out of Sunday&aposs squad against Arsenal due to training levels has breached the trust and goodwill of his manager, who had faith he would get back onto the right track with persistence and the right attitude.

Towards the end of last season, Ten Hag was insistent on using Sancho in his teams despite a lack of output and frequent tepid performances. He started the last four Premier League games and the FA Cup final and returned the favour with a single goal and assist in those five games.

On the face of it, not woeful, but as Ten Hag said in his press conference on Sunday: You have to reach a level every day at Manchester United.

It seems the accusation of attentiveness has followed him around having been fined 86,000 by Borussia Dortmund for reporting back from international duty late in 2019 while a lack of game time at Euro 2020 was down to poor training levels, according to Gareth Southgate.

Sanchos recent outburst will do more damage. It corners him into a situation with likely two outcomes; expulsion from Ten Hags plans or a late exit to Saudi Arabia with the window there not closing until Thursday.

As seen with Cristiano Ronaldos tantrum and Marcus Rashfords accidental late training arrival last season, Ten Hag will not – must not, and cannot – be undermined, especially so publicly.

It leaves Ten Hag with more than one headache. Not only does he have to deal with Sancho – again not selected for England – over the international break but such a severing only further diminishes the options in attack.

Sancho is considered Antonys back-up on the right ahead of Facundo Pellistri. He can also play as a false nine to keep Marcus Rashford operating on the left – his best position and where he scored from on Sunday.

With Rasmus Hojlund and Anthony Martial available, the latter option is less likely to be used but it would be daft to suggest Sancho has no impact as an option. A lack of bodies in attack is what pained United last season and with Martial currently far from being on song, it pays to have variety going forward.

When the cup competitions start, a squad of depth will be needed especially in light of the Champions League. Sancho has five Champions League goals – Antony, Alejandro Garnacho (none), Pellistri, (none), Hojlund (none in main competition) have three goals between them.