Jadon Sancho has highlighted Manchester United’s £119m dilemma – Richard Fay

As the full-time whistle reverberated around a sodden Turf Moor on Tuesday night the mood in the away end was that of a defeat, despite the point which was awarded for their side’s latest Jekyll and Hyde performance.

It adds up to the complex abundance of issues at Manchester United that even when they play well, they still find a way to inconceivably drop points against all of the odds.

United, like last Friday night against Middlesbrough, had so many chances to win the match that the baffling VAR decisions against them became a side note, though they still represented a convenient excuse for anyone looking to ignore uncomfortable home truths again.

Another reality check came in the form of Jadon Sancho.

The England international was arguably United’s brightest spark on the night playing as an inverted forward from the left and would likely have won the Man of the Match accolade had his side not crumbled after the half-time whistle.

Sancho finished the match with an impressive haul of five crosses, four dribbles and three shots, while he also won the ball seven times and completed 91 per cent of his attempted passes.

Yet his stellar showing still raised an awkward question – is he really the answer to United’s right-wing woes?

United finally got their man last summer when they splashed a sizeable £73million on his signature, a gigantic fee, but one which probably went a little under the radar given they had been quoted £108m by Borussia Dortmund a year previous.

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Having missed out on the 21-year-old in the 2020 window, United accelerated their pursuits of Amad and Facundo Pellistri to solve the problem, with £46million spent on another two youngsters who are both currently out on loan from the club.

In the long run one of Amad or Pellistri could well prove themselves capable of occupying the right-wing role, though the issue right now is that there is still not any standout candidate.

Sancho played more times on the left than he did on the right during his final year at Dortmund and the truth is that, despite being right-footed, he is far more comfortable playing on the left, where he can finish the majority of moves by moving the ball onto his dominant foot and working from a favorable angle.

Not only is that bad news for United’s right-wing vacancy, but this preferred role is one in which United already has an abundance of options.

Marcus Rashford, Anthony Elanga, Jesse Lingard all preferred inverted left-wing roles themselves, while Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes, have both played from the left in their United careers. Anthony Martial, on loan at Sevilla, also operates as a right-footer on the left, as has fellow loanee Donny van de Beek at Everton.

Jadon Sancho was United’s best player at Burnley

Inverted forwards are prominent in modern football, but with so many of them on the left, it now seems like United need a left-footer on the opposite flank who can balance their attacks by cutting inside from the right onto their stronger foot.

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After a stellar showing against Burnley, it is clear Sancho deserves to start in the same role against Southampton this weekend, leaving another space up for grabs on the opposite flank for someone to make their own.

Perhaps once Sancho has gained further confidence, he might still be able to make the right-wing role his own, but right now he needs to build upon the positive momentum which saw him shine so brightly on Tuesday night.

United spent £119m on three right-wingers in the space of ten months and still don’t have one.


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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