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Why is Alexis Sanchez struggling at Manchester United?

When Alexis Sanchez made his shock switch to Old Trafford in January, the hype behind the Chilean forward, and the thought of him joining the likes of Romelu Lukaku and Anthony Martial in the Manchester United attack was very exciting. But since arriving in Manchester, the former Arsenal star hasn’t really lived up to expectation, why is this?

Jose Mourinho has always expressed how he feels about the January transfer window, telling Manchester Evening News back in December; “I’m not a big defender of the January market but there are players and situations that sometimes you have the chance to do and you shouldn’t lose the chance.”

That is exactly what happened with Sanchez, the lure of bringing in a player that has undoubtedly proved himself in the Premier League and in Europe was too attractive to turn down, especially as he arrived for free. The excitement around Old Trafford, at his arrival, was plain to see, and many remain optimistic he can lead the reds back to the top of the English game.

However, his time at Old Trafford so far has failed to impress and with the 29-year-old only netting once against Huddersfield last month and that coming as a rebound as he missed a penalty. So why is Sanchez finding it so difficult to adjust to life at Old Trafford and under Jose Mourinho?

Firstly, we should all probably give him the benefit of the doubt as he has only been at the club since the end of January, and adjusting to new surroundings and a new style of playing takes time. He was used to a free-flowing possession-based style of play under Wenger, where the team would try and walk the ball into the net. Mourinho’s style of play is based more on being solid defensively then hitting teams on the counter-attack, and it will take time for Sanchez to get used to that.

I, like many also feel that Mourinho is playing the Chilean out of position and needs to play somewhere where he is more effective and able to influence the game more. The United boss has been putting him out on the right-wing since his arrival and it is somewhere where he is not necessarily used to playing. For Arsenal, he was normally played on the left or down the middle where he was able to get at full-backs and cut inside, unleashing that brilliant left foot.

It is somewhere where he should be playing more regularly because of the influence he can have on that left-wing, but United also have a whole host of players who can play on that left-wing, so it’s understandable Mourinho is just trying to fit everyone in the side.

In the recent game at Selhurst Park, Mourinho switched Sanchez’s position at half-time and played him just in behind Romelu Lukaku, and Sanchez immediately had more effect on a game where he struggled to influence in the first half.

It’s a nice problem to have to have so many attacking talents at your disposal, and trying to fit them all into your side, which Mourinho has tried to do. But to get the best out of the Chilean he needs to be played in a position where he can really affect the game because he is a player that can win games single-handedly.

It will take time for Sanchez to get used to the ways and means of Mourinho and to get used to his new surroundings, but as soon as that happens, there is no doubt that he will prove to be the missing part to United’s attack that is needed to compete for the title again.

Written by Dan Pearce

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