Manchester United winger Jadon Sancho has spent a season at the Old Trafford club now and despite a mixed 2021/22 season, scoring five goals and three assists in 37 appearances, he is now refreshed, rejuvenated and ready to go. The 2022/23 season is going to be a big season for the England winger with him having a lot to prove.
So far in pre-season, Sancho has made three appearances, playing 158 minutes and scoring two goals; one in the 4-0 victory over Liverpool and the other in the 3-1 victory over Crystal Palace. He has looked like the player he was at Borussia Dortmund that did not quite show himself at United in his first season at the club.
This is his first pre-season at United having played at Euro 2020 last summer despite the deal to sign him being completed on the 23 July and enduring an ear infection meaning the player made his debut for United in the 5-1 victory over Leeds United on the 14 August, missing pre-season completely. Speaking to the official Manchester United website, Sancho said:
“Well, this is my first pre-season with United because, last year, I had an infection in my ear so I couldn’t do the whole pre-season with the team which was a bit annoying at the time and [meant] a lack of fitness and understanding of how the players play.
“But now, this season, I feel a lot more comfortable and, especially scoring in pre-season, it is a confidence boost for myself and, hopefully, I can take that into the season and keep it going.”
Sancho started his United career under the management of Ole Gunnar Solskjær but he was sacked back in November 2021 which saw Michael Carrick take over for three matches before Ralf Rangnick stepped in as the interim manager for the club. Now that Erik ten Hag is managing United, Sancho spoke about the strong structure and the benefits, saying:
“For sure, he has. We’ve been having lots of meetings with the manager and understanding how he wants us to play and there’s definitely been a big sign of everyone taking that on board and us producing what he wants to happen.
“You can see in the games, as I said before, with how we’re playing and there being a lot more structure and opportunities to score, and we’re keeping the ball more too and being effective [with it].”
United have won all three of their pre-season matches so far this summer, beating Liverpool 4-0, Melbourne Victory 4-1 and Crystal Palace 3-1 but the habit of winning is something that has been present in every era for the Old Trafford club. Sancho spoke about the team looking at every match as must-win, saying:
“He’s told all the boys that every friendly is a must-win game. I can already tell from his mindset that he wants us to do well and, when the players hear that from a manager, you all take that in and we all want to give our best, especially out on the pitch. That’s been a real confidence boost.”
United’s Premier League season will commence with a home clash with Brighton and Hove Albion on Sunday 7 August, after the club beat them in the penultimate match of last season so United will be under pressure to win this match. Sancho was asked about how he was looking forward to the news season and the big matches that come in the early stages. He said:
“Not too much because I go game-by-game. Every game in the Premier League is a big game, especially for us, and, hopefully, we can start well when we get back [to Manchester] and I’m sure the boys will be ready.”
So far this summer, United have signed Tyrell Malaca, who is present in the clubs pre-season squad plus Christian Eriksen, who is still in Manchester and Lisandro Martinez, whose deal has yet to be fully completed. Having signed for the Old Trafford club a year ago, he was asked if he had any advice for the new summer signings. He said:
“My advice to them is just to keep playing how they’ve been playing for their previous clubs. It’s always difficult coming into a new team and adapting to a different style of play. Tyrell has been great since he’s been here. I used to play against him in the national team as well, when I was younger, so I’ve known about him for a long time and I know he’s a great full-back.”
This tour, which was different to last summer because of the coronavirus pandemic, is the first one in which the squad has left the United Kingdom. It has been good for team bonding and raising the morale of the team, which needed to be raised following what happened last season. Sancho suggested this looked like a whole new team, considering they were the same player. He said:
“This pre-season, we have the same players but it just looks like a whole different team and I do think that’s something we’re working on and I feel like we’re getting better. The manager is big on team-bonding and having fun together and doing things like team dinners and things like that. So, yeah, it’s helping.”
United supporters are excited to see the new team play under the management of Ten Hag. Sancho was asked about the focus, determination and excitement from his teammates, coaches and everyone else about the new season. It needs to be a positive one for United considering what happened last season – the worst United have been in the Premier League. Sancho said:
“Yeah, for sure. Last year wasn’t great and I feel like everyone has something to prove for this upcoming season. We don’t want to put performances in like we did last year and upset the fans.
“Some fans travelled for a long time to get to the stadium and watch us not perform. I’m sure, this year, everyone is going to make up for that and make sure every game we play we put 100 per cent in and make sure the fans are smiling at the end of the game.”
Written by John Walker