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Where did it all go wrong for Jadon Sancho at Manchester United?

Where did it all go wrong for Jadon Sancho at Manchester United?
Image credits: Matthew Ashton - AMA / Getty Images

Earlier this week, Jadon Sancho finally completed his long-awaited move away from Manchester United, after a torrid spell that saw him become an outcast.

The English forward has rejoined Borussia Dortmund on a short-term loan until the end of the season, and while there is no buy option included in the deal, his future seems a long way away from Old Trafford.

Sancho joined United from Dortmund back in the summer of 2021 for a staggering €85 million fee, after over two years chasing his signature, yet his value has dropped significantly over the years, as he has failed to settle down and be consistent.

This season, he only featured in three games in all competitions, all from off the bench, with his last game coming back in August in a 3-2 win over Nottingham Forest.

Upon his return to Germany, his mood immediately seemed to improve, saying: "When I walked into the dressing room today, it felt like coming home. I've never lost contact with the people in charge."

"I can't wait to see my teammates again, play football with a smile on my face, assist and score goals and help Borussia Dortmund," he added.

However, where did it all go wrong for Sancho at Old Trafford?

When Sancho signed for United, he came during a time of great promise, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer still at the helm, and was signed alongside the likes of Raphael Varane and Cristiano Ronaldo, as United looked to push on for a possible title.

However, things quickly fell apart and Solskjaer left the position, with Ralf Rangnick being appointed until the end of the season, and we all know how that ended...

In 2021/22, Sancho's opening season at United, he managed just five goals and three assists in 38 games, as he struggled for a consistent run of form despite being a relatively regular starter in a disjointed side.

It is also important to note that United had signed Sancho already knowing he had some off-field issues, with the Englishman reportedly turning up late to training at Dortmund on repeated instances. While he would get away with it in Germany due to his stellar form, it wasn't the case in England.

When Erik ten Hag arrived at Old Trafford in 2022, many saw Sancho as a possible player to benefit from the Dutchman's management style, and at the start, it seemed like that was the case.

Sancho started on a regular basis and was regaining some of his form, up until the end of 2022, when he missed some games due to an unspecified illness. Later on, Ten Hag addressed the issue, stating that Sancho was in the Netherlands to work with coaches he knew in order to provide a personal training programme.

"He was not in the right status or fitness state," Ten Hag had said, adding that he had "several talks" with the winger. The manager had added that Sancho was not well physically and mentally.

However, in February 2023, he made his return, and things were seemingly on the up for him, scoring twice in his first five games back. United ended the season in the UEFA Champions League spots, with a Carabao Cup trophy in the cabinet, having also reached the FA Cup final.

Everything seemed plain sailing ahead of the 2023/24 season for Sancho, or did it?

There were various hints that Ten Hag would be keen on using Sancho more centrally, having played him up front or behind the striker during pre-season, but the Dutchman opted against starting him once the season began.

United weren't in the best of form, and Sancho was seemingly disgruntled for not making the squad in the game to face Arsenal, with Ten Hag stating that he was not in the team because of his performances in training.

"You have to reach a level every day at Manchester United," Ten Hag had said.

However, almost immediately after Ten Hag's post-match interview, Sancho hit back on social media, saying: "I will not allow people saying things that are completely untrue. I have conducted myself very well in training 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," he continued.

That is when it all kicked off, as Ten Hag demanded an apology from Sancho, with the winger clearly challenging the manager's authority and decision-making, something that would not go down well.

Sancho was completely frozen out from the squad, being forced to train with the U-21s according to reports. Sancho remained silent on the issue, while Ten Hag was bombarded with questions week-in-week-out.

Ten Hag repeatedly said Sancho has the power to bring the dispute to an end by apologising, yet the 23-year-old chose against doing so, and as United struggled with a horrible start to the season, Sancho remained on the sidelines. To make it even worse, there were hints that some of the squad was seemingly on Sancho's side, feeling that the punishment was too harsh.

He proceeded to deactivate his social media account, adding further weight to the story. Sancho reactivated it as soon as the Dortmund move was moments away from being announced.

Fast-forward to the start of 2024, and Sancho already had one foot out of the door, with United desperate to offload him. And he now has his long-awaited move, and a chance to resurrect his career, after one filled with controversy and to be frank, underwhelming events.


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