Jadon Sancho adds himself to list of reasons for Man Utd to sack Ten Hag after Champions League riot

Will Ford
Sancho Dortmund
Jadon Sancho tore PSG apart for Borussia Dortmund.

If it’s a choice between Jadon Sancho and Erik ten Hag for Sir Jim Ratcliffe at Manchester United there really is only one winner. What an incredible performance.

It couldn’t have been a more pleasing goal, from the centre-back pass to the Borussia Dortmund fans chanting the goalscorer’s name back at the stadium announcer. Nico Schlotterbeck drifted the ball over the top of the PSG defence to the most German of all Germans, Niclas Fullkrug, A Proper Striker of a striker, who timed his run perfectly, took a dainty first touch and then battered the ball past Gianluigi Donnarumma with his second. Wonderful.

And Niclas… FULLKRUG! again showed his Good Touch For A Big Man, along with great presence of mind, at the end of a first half Dortmund had much the better of, setting Marcel Sabitzer up for a volley that the former Manchester United loanee hit well and would have scored from had he not hit it straight at Donnarumma.

Sabitzer wasn’t the most prominent ex-Red Devil starring for Dortmund, in part because the commentary team and studio pundits couldn’t help but praise even his fellow defector’s most minor contributions, knowing that Sancho’s exile from his parent club and ensuing revitalisation was the main attraction of this game for the TNT Sports viewers, beyond it being a Champions League semi-final and the obvious draw of Kylian Mbappe’s brilliance.

That willingness to overpraise aside, he is clearly very, very good at football again and made plenty of praiseworthy contributions on his way to winning the Player of the Match award. He was doing Sancho things like wanting the ball, killing it dead with his first touch, using his quick feet to run at and get past defenders, creating chances and making good decisions. His confidence uptick was evident in a first half in which he completed more dribbles (7) than in any of his 58 appearances for United, and increased after the break upon the realisation that he had Nuno Mendes on skates.

While Karim Adeyemi used his ludicrous speed on the opposite flank to get the better of Achraf Hakimi, Sancho dug deep into his well of guile and close control to put Mendes firmly in his place, flat-footed on the touchline, powerless to the Dortmund No.10’s trickery.

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Sancho’s best moment, typical of his absolute peak, saw him slow Mendes to a standstill on the touchline before he nicked the ball past the over-eager defender, raced to the touchline and pulled a cross back for Fullkrug, who really should scored on the volley.

He deserved an assist for that moment of brilliance, and again after a similar display of his quality, this time his vision and weight of pass, as he slipped a pass through the legs of a PSG defender and into the path of Julian Brandt, whose first touch wasn’t the best before his shot was expertly blocked by Marquinhos.

We didn’t see anything like this display, against one of the best teams in Europe no less, in any of his games for United. Sancho completed 33 dribbles in total last season and finished this game with 12, the most in a Champions League semi-final since Lionel Messi vs United in 2008.

As Owen Hargreaves said after the game, Sancho was “outrageous”, to the extent that Sir Jim Ratcliffe should be adding him to the growing list of reasons to sack Erik ten Hag.

Sancho’s name is always somewhere near the top of various United FIRE SALE lists ahead of the summer, and Ratcliffe may just see this game as fuel to increase his value, which has reportedly been set at £40m, but should far closer to the £73m they paid for him in 2021 based on what he just did to PSG.

Ten Hag has made it abundantly clear that there’s no way back for Sancho without an apology, which won’t be forthcoming. And while there’s clearly something about Dortmund – whether it’s the city, the league, the fans, his teammates – which acts as a comfort blanket for Sancho, it’s also perfectly possible that a new United manager could succeed where Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ten Hag failed by getting the best out of him, as Lucien Favre did and Edin Terzic is doing.

📣TO THE COMMENTS! Is Sancho or Ten Hag the problem? Join the debate here

We hear plenty of talk of ‘the shirt weighing heavy’ and that’s almost always blamed for the multiple very talented footballers to have come a cropper at United in the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era. But isn’t that supposed to be a thing of the past under Ratcliffe and INEOS? What’s the point of the culture and ethos changes they’re making if they can’t create an environment in which incredibly talented young footballers can’t thrive at Old Trafford?

They will be in the market for a new winger in the summer because Antony’s not very good at football and Mason Greenwood’s return would be a PR disaster. Sancho has said he wants to stay at Dortmund, but could surely be tempted – under the right circumstances – to give it another go at United.

That will only happen if Ten Hag’s given the boot, but – on the evidence of his season at United and this extraordinary display from Sancho in a Champions League semi-final – that’s an absolute no-brainer.

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