Ben Jacobs has written in his exclusive CaughtOffside column about the situation behind the scenes at Manchester United after their poor start to the new season.
The Red Devils have endured a pretty miserable time both on and off the pitch so far this term, with poor results and performances coupled with issues regarding both Jadon Sancho and Antony.
Jacobs has given some insight into how this is impacting the mood inside Old Trafford, and it seems we’re not seeing manager Erik ten Hag losing the dressing room just yet.
Still, the Dutch tactician notably rubbed Cristiano Ronaldo up the wrong way with his harsh methods, and the same thing seems to be happening with Sancho, according to Jacobs.
This looks like being a big test for Ten Hag, with things clearly needing to improve soon if he is to avoid getting the blame for everything looking like such a mess.
“It’s been an uncertain summer at Manchester United. The good news is that Erik ten Hag was delighted with the club’s summer business. Mason Mount was a priority target and Rasmus Hojlund has a big future ahead of him,” Jacobs said.
“But a drawn-out sale process – which remains active even though the Glazers are yet to show their hand – and some notable fallouts and injuries have contributed to an indifferent start to the season.
“The club deny reports there was a dressing-room bust up after the 3-1 loss to Brighton, but what is clear is things are tense with Manchester United 13th in the Premier League. You would expect this. It would almost be more surprising if it wasn’t this way after three league losses in five games.
“There is no doubt Ten Hag has the support of Manchester United’s hierarchy. He won plaudits for how he handled Cristiano Ronaldo’s exit a year ago. And the Manchester United boss believes his ‘firm but fair attitude’ is necessary to change the culture at the club and is instructed from the top.
“But Ronaldo, and it’s fair to say Jadon Sancho as well, view the Manchester United boss as too much of a taskmaster at times. Sources say Ronaldo complained he was made to run ‘punishment’ laps and that training felt too much like boot camp.
“As for Sancho, he simply feels scapegoated. He made that clear in a now deleted social media post. Yet several Manchester United sources argue he needs to be more disciplined and focused in training. There are clearly two sides to that story.
“The fact Al-Ettifaq, when they enquired on September 7, were told a £50m obligation to buy was necessary shows Manchester United were prepared to let Sancho leave. And he could yet be sold in January if the situation doesn’t improve.”