Sancho: It looks like a whole different team
Jadon Sancho is refreshed, rejuvenated and ready to go for the Reds after an impressive start to pre-season and an enjoyable and productive few weeks under new Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag.
Our no.25 endured a frustrating start to his United career after an ear infection derailed his pre-season this time last year.
But after a restful summer break, Jadon has returned to training feeling "a lot more comfortable" and with the confidence boost of a couple of goals already on Tour 2022, amid some excellent performances under Ten Hag.
We sat down with the 22-year-old in Perth to reflect on the preparations for the new campaign so far, how it's been working with Erik and the importance of getting into the winning habit as quickly as possible...
It’s your second year here now, you must feel very settled on and off the pitch and what learnings do you take into this upcoming season?
"It’s my second year now, settling into the team, knowing how players play and I’m excited for the upcoming season, with a new manager and how he wants us to play, and I think it will be good for myself. The training, especially in pre-season, has been a real positive and all the lads have taken on board what he’s saying; you can see it in the games, we’re creating a lot more chances, keeping the ball more and just making good things out of the style we’re playing."
You’ve had a great pre-season so far with some goals – how much of a benefit will that be for you going into the new campaign?
"Well, this is my first pre-season with United because, last year, I had an infection in my ear so I couldn’t do the whole pre-season with the team which was a bit annoying at the time and [meant] a lack of fitness and understanding of how the players play. But now, this season, I feel a lot more comfortable and, especially scoring in pre-season, it is a confidence boost for myself and, hopefully, I can take that into the season and keep it going."
"For sure, he has. We’ve been having lots of meetings with the manager and understanding how he wants us to play and there’s definitely been a big sign of everyone taking that on board and us producing what he wants to happen. You can see in the games, as I said before, with how we’re playing and there being a lot more structure and opportunities to score, and we’re keeping the ball more too and being effective [with it]."
Even though it’s only friendlies in pre-season, how important is it to get into the winning habit from the off?
"He’s told all the boys that every friendly is a must-win game. I can already tell from his mindset that he wants us to do well and, when the players hear that from a manager, you all take that in and we all want to give our best, especially out on the pitch. That’s been a real confidence boost."
How much are you looking forward to the new season now and are the big games we have near the start of the season already in your mind?
"Not too much because I go game-by-game. Every game in the Premier League is a big game, especially for us, and, hopefully, we can start well when we get back [to Manchester] and I’m sure the boys will be ready."
We’ll have some new faces amongst the squad when we’re back in Manchester and we’ve had Tyrell Malacia on tour with us. You know how it feels to sign for this club, so what’s your advice to the new lads?
"My advice to them is just to keep playing how they’ve been playing for their previous clubs. It’s always difficult coming into a new team and adapting to a different style of play. Tyrell has been great since he’s been here. I used to play against him in the national team as well, when I was younger, so I’ve known about him for a long time and I know he’s a great full-back."
Has this tour also been a really good exercise for team-bonding and getting to know the new manager and coaches and just all being together?
"This pre-season, we have the same players but it just looks like a whole different team and I do think that’s something we’re working on and I feel like we’re getting better. The manager is big on team-bonding and having fun together and doing things like team dinners and things like that. So, yeah, it’s helping."
"Yeah, for sure. Last year wasn’t great and I feel like everyone has something to prove for this upcoming season. We don’t want to put performances in like we did last year and upset the fans. Some fans travelled for a long time to get to the stadium and watch us not perform. I’m sure, this year, everyone is going to make up for that and make sure every game we play we put 100 per cent in and make sure the fans are smiling at the end of the game."