Under Erik, ten Hag, Manchester United as a whole is steadily getting better. The team received a reality check about how long the Dutchman would take to implement his style in the first two games of the 2022–23 season against Brighton and Brentford. Still, in recent weeks against Tottenham and Chelsea, the football has been significantly better and closer to what supporters will see in the long run.
On the other hand, Jadon Sancho doesn’t appear to be traveling with the team. The English winger was anticipated to improve by many United supporters under the new coaching staff, but in recent weeks he appears to have regressed rather than advanced.
Sancho has received harsh criticism for his game performance because he doesn’t challenge enough opponents, which reduces the number of possibilities he can generate for his side. Even Luke Shaw’s return to the left-back position, where he has excelled in his few games, hasn’t had the desired effect.
The former Borussia Dortmund star Marcus Rashford, who has been starting at position nine since Anthony Martial was injured, appears to have kept his spot. However, if the Frenchman returned, Sancho could not retain his work.
Before that, though, he may be in danger of losing his position to another player from the United team. Anthony Elanga saw minimal action after Ten Hag’s hiring, despite being a regular starter under Ralf Rangnick.
Cristiano Ronaldo declined to enter the game against Tottenham, so Elanga replaced him for a brief while, although he played a bigger role versus Chelsea. He also demonstrated why Ten Hag would have greater justification to utilize him in the future when he came on.
His contribution was essential to United’s equalizer, and even during his brief cameo, he displayed the directness that Sancho on the left had been lacking. If the Swedish winger had been racing at Azpilicueta earlier in the game, the outcome would have been different, given his early struggles at right wing-back.
Overall, United invested a lot of money in Sancho, so they won’t want to give up on him just yet—and they shouldn’t, given how gifted he is. But for United to have the best opportunity of finishing in the top four, the 22-year-old will need to be dismissed if he doesn’t improve soon. Elanga could easily take his position.