Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Sancho a victim of Solskjaer’s struggle to strike right balance



Sancho a victim of Solskjaer’s struggle to strike right balance

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Manchester United striker Jadon Sancho (right) claps with club manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as he prepares to come onto the field during the English Premier League football match against Leeds United on August 14. AFP

Sancho a victim of Solskjaer’s struggle to strike right balance

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was left with no excuses in his quest to end the club’s four-year trophy drought when Cristiano Ronaldo headlined a starry transfer window.

But the Norwegian has failed to match expectations and Saturday’s 4-2 loss at Leicester left United five points adrift in the Premier League title race and already out of the League Cup.

The scrutiny on Solskjaer is increasing ahead of Atalanta’s visit to Old Trafford in the Champions League on Wednesday with progress to the last 16 of Europe’s premier club competition far from certain.

Ronaldo’s last-gasp strike to snatch a 2-1 win over Villarreal three weeks ago was badly needed after United lost their opening game in Group F to Swiss champions Young Boys.

Solskjaer already has one early group stage exit on his CV. Last season the Red Devils blew a perfect start to be knocked out by Paris Saint-Germain and RB Leipzig.

Failure to reach the knockout stages again could be the final blow to Solskjaer’s credibility among a fanbase beginning to turn on the man who famously won them the Champions League with a stoppage time goal against Bayern Munich in 1999.

United spent £73 million ($101 million) to sign Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund in July and followed that with the impressive capture of four-time Champions League winner Raphael Varane from Real Madrid.

But Ronaldo’s return relegated Sancho’s signing to the shadows.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner has scored five times in eight games since returning to the club where he made his name.

However, United have won only three of those eight games.

“The performances have been so shoddy all season in terms of team performances,” said former Manchester United captain Gary Neville.

“There’s been some good results and some great individual goals, but the overall performances and the unit in and out of possession have been shoddy.”

Sancho has embodied those struggles more than most.

He was a prolific scorer and creator during four seasons in Germany, where he blossomed into one of Europe’s most promising attacking talents, but United are yet to see any return on their investment with no goals or assists in his first 10 appearances for the club.

The 21-year-old has not been helped by persistent tinkering with his role.

Initially signed to fill United’s need for a right winger, he has found himself more often playing from the left with Mason Greenwood forced onto the right by Ronaldo’s presence through the middle.

Now Marcus Rashford and EdinsonCavani are coming back to fitness.

Solskjaer has so far tried to accommodate as many of his arsenal of attacking players as possible with a front three backed up by Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba in midfield.

Pogba and Fernandes have already spoken out at the need for a clearer tactical plan. Solskjaer hinted after Saturday’s loss that he has tough choices to make.

“We need to look at the whole set-up and balance of the team and maybe something has to give. Lately, we have not been in great form, we’ve lost too many points and that is something we have to look at,” said Solskjaer.

“We might have to change. Do we need more legs in there?”

Sancho may well be the fall guy, making way for an extra body in midfield, but that would again highlight the muddled thinking that has epitomised United’s years of decline since Alex Ferguson’s departure as manager in 2013.

After the club spent nearly two years pursuing his signature, it has taken barely two months for Sancho’s role in the team to be questioned.

MOST VIEWED

  • Siem Reap drain canal now ‘mangrove’ promenade

    A more than half a kilometre long stretch of canal in Siem Reap has been covered and turned into a promenade to attract visitors, said Ly Rasmey, secretary of state at the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction, on September 16. The new pedestrianised

  • Angkor wildlife, aquarium park still to open October

    The Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium complex about 30km southeast of Siem Reap town with initial total investment of more than $70 million is reportedly still on track for an end-October opening. The park is located on a 100ha plot along National Road 6 in Kbon village, Khchas

  • Final verdicts for Khmer Rouge leaders ‘vital’ for next generation

    Nearly a decade after the commencement of Case 002/02 against Khieu Samphan back in 2014, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) is now set to deliver its final verdict for the former Khmer Rouge head of state. The Supreme Court Chamber of the ECCC,

  • Typhoon Noru brings flash floods – 16 dead

    An official warned that that the 16th typhoon of the season, Noru, had brought heavy rains to areas the Mekong River and flooded thousands of homes in the provinces bordering Thailand. As of September 27, the death toll from the flooding had risen to 16. National Committee

  • Defence minister reaffirms Kingdom’s staunch support for One-China policy

    Minister of National Defence General Tea Banh has reaffirmed Cambodia’s unwavering support for the One-China policy. Tea Banh was speaking at the September 20 ceremonial handover of 117 vehicles and other military equipment donated by China’s defence ministry, held at Phnom Chumreay International Military Training

  • Deaths due to ‘lifestyle’ diseases rise in Kingdom

    The Ministry of Health has called on people to pay closer attention to their health to protect themselves from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) which it said have caused high rates of deaths in the country. Ministry secretary of state York Sambath made the call at a