Why Sancho is turning a corner
Former Manchester United winger Ben Thornley believes Jadon Sancho is displaying the confidence required to show his true colours for the Reds.
The England international was voted our Man of the Match in the 1-1 draw at Burnley and enjoyed one of his best performances since joining the club in the summer from Borussia Dortmund.
It was an encouraging aspect of the game at Turf Moor and Thornley expects the wide-man to provide more excitement for the supporters as the season wears on, with Southampton up next at Old Trafford on Saturday.
“He seems to have gained his confidence," MUTV pundit Thornley told us. "Obviously, United fans are very forgiving, either for someone promoted from the youth team, they seem to give them a little bit of an elongated stay if you like, but also the new players that come in. It’s because they’re so desperate for them to do well. After a while, though, this might fade but his form has been great.
“There was a little bit of a worrying spell for Sancho and even things that were second nature to him in Germany were proving more difficult here. All of sudden, I don’t know what the catalyst has been for that, maybe the brilliant goal at Chelsea, but I don’t think there was ever any doubt he’s got the inclination, the skill and mindset to want to succeed.
"At the moment, he’s bringing it, everything he’s got in his armoury, and is showing Manchester United fans and his team-mates just what he’s capable of," added Thornley. "If we get all 11 of them performing like they did on Friday night and in the first half last night for 90 minutes, it’ll double his output. He’ll stay on the field and be more regularly involved and is bound to create more goals and score more goals.
"I think it is confidence and the thing is you can see is he’s not as ready or as quick to get rid of the football, like he once was. He wants to hold onto it and draw defenders towards him, beat defenders and, whether he uses his team-mates or does it on his own with a bit of skill, we love seeing it. It’s what it’s about having wingers in the team, to excite people and get them out of their seats."
Something that was noticeable was the 21-year-old maintained his high level of performance even when the chips were down at Burnley, after the home team's equaliser. Although the conditions were far from perfect, he still looked one of the likeliest outlets for a second goal and showed an admirable attitude.
"He was one of the few in the second half still probing and trying to find a way through," said Thornley. "Again, that proves, he’s starting to turn the corner and how far he has come since he first arrived.
"In times gone by, he may have been the one to make way last night when Cristiano Ronaldo was coming onto the pitch. However, last night, I think he’d be one of the last to come off, apart from the goalkeeper, as he didn’t deserve to be taken off. He was, by far and away, one of our most consistent performers in the first half and, as I said, one of the few who continued that in the second half.
"I think Jadon has been playing really well for the last couple of games and I'm really pleased. There was a time I was a little concerned but he's scored a couple of goals and his overall play looks something like the player we obviously bought from Dortmund. He'll skilful, quick and can get at players, unsettle players, and hopefully will provide more goals and more assists if he continues like that."
Sancho will be looking to build on his display when the Saints visit Old Trafford in the 12:30 GMT kick-off on Saturday.