Is sending Jadon Sancho on loan backing Erik Ten Hag?
Sending Sancho out on loan doesn't necessarily mean Manchester United are taking the managers side
On the afternoon of January 2nd, reports broke that Manchester United and Borussia Dortmund were in serious discussions regarding a loan move for current United outcast Jadon Sancho.
Sancho has been out of the United squad since a public row with manager Erik Ten Hag in earlier September. Sancho had been left out of the squad for United’s trip to Arsenal and when asked about it after the game Ten Hag said he had been left out due to his performance in training.
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Sancho immediately posted a tweet claiming that his being scapegoated. “Don’t believe everything you read. I will not allow people saying things that is completely untrue,” he wrote. “I believe there are other reasons for this matter that I won’t go into, I’ve been a scapegoat for a long time which isn’t fair.”
Sancho’s comments all goes to tell us there’s a lot more to the story that we don’t know - including all of Sancho’s side. That doesn’t mean he’s right, it just means we don’t have all the information.
In the forthcoming days Manchester United publicly stood by their manager. Reports started leaking in the media that Sancho had a history of showing up late to training. Sancho has taken the tweet down but has so far refused to apologize to Erik Ten Hag - keeping him out of the United team - despite teammates pleading with him to do so.
Just one day into the January transfer window United were already prepared to (temporarily) cut ties with Sancho. Reports from Germany state that Borussia Dortmund will pay United just €3m for the loan. That hardly covers much of Sancho’s wages so United won’t even be getting much in the way of wage relief here. Athletic reporter Laurie Whitwell called the loan further backing (of Ten Hag).
Except, I’m not sure I’d rush to call this “backing the manager.”
In a normal situation, sure. But United aren’t in a normal situation. They’re in the midst of a takeover that’s going to see new people in charge of the sporting direction of the club in a few weeks. Reports are that while INEOS has yet to be officially empowered, they still need to be consulted regarding all football matters. Given that information, everything has to be looked at through the INEOS lens.
The media is selling this loan move as an opportunity for Sancho to try and generate interest from other clubs for a permanent move. In a normal situation, sure. But let’s think about this logically? Where exactly is Sancho going?
Borussia Dortmund are very happy to take Sancho back. The reason it’s a loan and not a permanent move is because Borussia Dortmund can’t afford a permanent move. According to Capology Sancho’s current wages would make him the ninth highest earner in the Bundesliga. The eight players above him all pay for Bayern Munich.
Even if Sancho rediscovers his form, his wages mean that the second tier Champions League teams - teams like Borussia Dortmund, AC Milan, Napoli, Atletico Madrid - can’t afford him. A team like West Ham may certainly be interested in him but they can’t offer him the wages he makes at United.
Even if United agreed to a move with another club, Sancho isn’t going to walk away from all that money1. The only way he takes less money at another club is if United pay him the difference. It’s unlikely that INEOS would want to go down that path.
In order for a permanent move for Sancho to be realistic, he would have to attract the interest of the team’s that could afford him. The high end Champions League teams. That would be clubs like Real Madrid, Manchester City, Bayern Munich, PSG, and… that might be it?2
Scoring five goals and adding another five assists over the second half of the season isn’t going to get those teams interested. In order to get them interested Sancho would have go right back to doing what he did three years ago, tear up the Bundesliga.
A 23 year old tearing up the Bundesliga would be exactly the kind of player United themselves would be interested him. Selling him - for a reduced rate because they have no leverage - would be extremely embarrassing.
If the only way to sell a player is have him be so good that selling him would be embarrassing, that makes it highly unlikely that INEOS would want to sell this asset. Therefore this loan could say more about the future of United’s current manager than the player.
Right now, Erik Ten Hag is not doing a good job. To say many managers have been sacked for less would be an understatement. Most managers are sacked for less. The biggest reason Ten Hag is still United’s manager is simply no one at the club knows if they have the power to fire him.
INEOS has stated that they plan to do a full audit of every department of the club when they first arrive. That will include the manager, and while I believe Erik Ten Hag will still be United’s manager in May, he hasn’t shown any reason to believe he’s the guy that’s going to turn things around and actually lead United forward in the future.
However, for arguments sake let’s say INEOS believes Ten Hag is the guy for the long term future. In that case, if I’m Sir Jim Ratcliffe one of the first things I’m doing is getting Sancho and Ten Hag into a room together and trying to work out a pathway for Sancho to get back to the first team.
Explain to the manager that buying out Sancho is not an option due to United’s current cash positions and long term FFP implications. Finding a buyer will be almost impossible. If he’s still in the squad and not playing, he’s doing nothing but burning a hole in your books and taking up funds that will prevent you from signing someone else. If that’s what Ten Hag wants, he’d essentially be agreeing to manage a team with one hand tied behind his back.
Sending Sancho out on loan can just as well be a sign that Ten Hag won’t be the man in charge at the start of next season. If INEOS are planning on making a change, then what better than to send Sancho away for half a season in hopes he can rediscover his form, and return to the fold next season ready to win a place in the team and make an impact under a new manager?
Sending Sancho on loan doesn’t automatically mean United are backing Erik Ten Hag. It doesn’t automatically mean Ten Hag won’t be in charge next season. The most likely case is that United are simply trying to do everything they can to turn what Ten Hag turned into a liability back into an asset and not be sitting on dead money for the next two years.
If he wants to keep playing football he would do what everyone else does. Keep agreeing to loans while you see out your contract
We know Barcelona and Juventus are broke bois. In all honesty Real Madrid might be on that list too