The key to a successful team is balance, without balance the team can become one sided and heavily dependent on certain positions rather than consistency throughout the field. Manchester United have had this issue in recent years lacking a natural quality right winger since Cristiano Ronaldo left for Real Madrid in 2009. Players have come and go, with the likes of Antonio Valencia, Luis Nani and Angel Di Maria but none solidifying the right wing for very long. In recent years, United have craved a natural right winger who could beat a man but also has good technical quality and can pick out a pass but also score goals. The key question is, can Jadon Sancho be this player?
Sancho is an intelligent winger, who is press resistant and has great ability to be direct and beat a man; he’s also got some good speed on him making him tricky to mark. What makes Sancho stand out in Europe is his superb goal and assists numbers. Over the past three seasons he’s managed 38 goals and 51 assists in 108 games in the Bundesliga. In the Champions League he’s created six goals and scored five in 21 games. Furthermore, when compared to England’s other wingers, Sancho tops the assists in 2020/21 with 11; he’s also got the lowest minutes to goal or assist ratio with 108 mins. Therefore, this implies Sancho is often involved in the final third but there’s other key elements to his game that will improve United offensively.
As mentioned, Sancho has a knack for beating a man and this is seen through his 3.3 successful dribbles per game bettering Jack Grealish who is renowned for his ability to dribble past players and win fouls. This dribbling could be crucial for United as it’ll provide directness and impetus into the attack which sometimes has lacked on the right side as Mason Greenwood preferred to cut in and Aaron Wan-Bissaka favours passing to dribbling, thus, giving the fullback far more issues as Sancho has the ability to create with 2.9 chances created per 90 mins second only to Jack Grealish. Subsequently, this should open up opportunities for Wan-Bissaka, as the oppositional fullback will be caught in two minds whether to let Sancho cut in or to let him dribble outside him which ultimately will make United far dangerous on the right flank.
Furthermore, as seen with his high chance creation, Sancho could become a crucial part of United’s creativity. As a team, this will help players like Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba as the creative role is often forced upon them and with the added help of Sancho it releases some of the pressure upon them making it harder to supress United’s creativity as previously teams have been able to man mark Pogba or focus on Fernandes which can neutralise United’s attacking force, but with Sancho it adds another element to deal with as if they mark Bruno out of the game it could leave Sancho with more space to cause problems. In addition, the centre forward, likely to be Edinson Cavani will be helped immensely as Sancho won’t be afraid to put a ball into the box and with his ability to pick a pass, he could deliver Cavani more chances which will enhance United’s likelihood of scoring.
In the last decade since Sir Alex Ferguson retired, United’s style has been scrutinised as in the roots of the club quick fast flowing football is expected. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be looking to bring this back after the slow boring football under Mourinho and the side to side possession football under Louis van Gaal. Sancho could be key to this, as he’ll play with the confidence seen with past wingers like George Best, Ryan Giggs and Ronaldo. His confidence and directness could help improve the players around him as well as creating a proper link up with winger and fullback which has been missing since Wan-Bissaka signed.
If the pairing can create a real chemistry in their game, it can build a strong right flank which will provide the balance that is needed to ensure fast fluid football which is demanded at Manchester United. Overall, I feel Sancho will have a vastly positive effect on Manchester United, especially with regards to the overall fluidity of the team, the creativity, and the linkup on the right side. With Sancho leading the right flank, United will be hoping he can take them back to the top and becoming the final piece in the puzzle.
Written by Ethan Bents