— Manchester United (@ManUtd) July 26, 2021
Manchester United FC may have exceeded expectations last season, yet that doesn’t mean they don’t require reinforcements. The signing of Jadon Sancho, the highly-rated Englishman who has been playing in the Bundesliga, is a brilliant first step. His goals and assists, as well as his overall creative play, will bring a new dimension to Old Trafford.
Still, Sancho alone won’t lift the former champions back onto their pedestal. He’s an excellent addition, but it may be a while before fans see the best of him in a United jersey, which means the club could take a while to challenge for honors again.
The Adaptation Period
It’s hard to argue against Sancho’s stellar performances in Germany as of late. Indeed, his ability to link up the play and latch on to the end of his teammates’ passes has caught the eye of a nation. To put it into perspective, the ex-Man City player had more assists and successful dribbles per 90 minutes than any other Englishman in 2020/21.
However, just because he is English doesn’t mean he’ll slot straight back into the Premier League without an adjustment period. Some of the biggest stars in the world, from Juan Sebastian Veron to Hernan Crespo, have had to cope with the preliminary adaptation period. Yet for Sancho, this transition could be further problematized by the fact that he hasn’t played in the English Premier League before.
The winger left City before he got his chance to shine, which makes him a Bundesliga specialist at the moment. All the evidence suggests he’ll reproduce his impressive form in the Premier League. Still, United supporters shouldn’t be surprised if this doesn’t happen within 12 months.
Part of what made United relatively successful last year was the lack of confusion. Apart from Paul Pogba, everyone understood their role and delivered as expected, including rising talent such as Mason Greenwood. With Sancho bolstering the team, the formula is complicated by the fact there are too many players to fit into the first 11.
Let’s hypothesize that Marcus Rashford and Edinson Cavani are fit along with Sancho: this means Anthony Martial, Daniel James, and Greenwood won’t start many games. Sure, they may feature from the bench, but Martial has proven that he isn’t diplomatic enough to accept being a substitute. Greenwood, meanwhile, needs time on the pitch if his growth isn’t to be stunted. Sancho may unwillingly limit the striker’s developments and cause the club additional headaches further down the line.
It appears as if the bookies agree since United’s Premier League betting odds have drifted to 8/1 to win the league outright. Before Sancho’s signature was announced, they were much closer to joint second-favorites Liverpool and Chelsea.
Not Striking Gold
In some ways, Sancho papers over the cracks. Solskjaer’s side needs a lot of investment if it’s one day going to compete with their Manchester and Merseyside rivals. While Sancho is a potential step in the right direction, the board seems to have strengthened an area that didn’t need stabilizing.
The Norwegian coach has plenty of threatening options on either flank, something he proved last campaign. What he also highlighted was his lack of a forward threat. Yes, Cavani still has qualities others don’t, and Rashford and Sancho will hopefully pitch in with goals, but nothing is guaranteed. After all, the Uruguayan is 34 and won’t play every game, and there are already doubts over Rashford’s fitness.
If United can sign someone like Harry Kane, a proven scorer who will hit the ground running, then all bets are off. Currently, the club doesn’t have a world-class forward in their sights and have opted to spend the money on Sancho instead.
In the long run, that could prove to be a mistake, especially if financial constraints prevent them from competing for the likes of Kane, Kylian Mbappe, or Erling Haaland.