Opinion

Jadon Sancho stars for Man Utd - but the rest are simply not good enough

Toby Cudworth
Sancho showed his class after a difficult few months
Sancho showed his class after a difficult few months / Laurence Griffiths/GettyImages
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It's been well-documented that Jadon Sancho has endured a difficult first six months at Manchester United, but his performance in Saturday's 1-1 draw with Southampton was further evidence that the England winger is finally on the right track.

The 21-year-old was razor sharp against Ralph Hasenhuttl's impressive Saints, and his vision, directness and frightening pace on the counter attack was rewarded with a deserved first Premier League goal at Old Trafford.

Sancho was comfortably United's best player on the day, with the only other bright spark of a troubling afternoon the first half showing of Paul Pogba - though he faded as the game wore on.

But while Sancho showed his performance levels are heading in the right direction, the same cannot be said for the majority of his United teammates - many of whom were well off the pace and again showed they are simply not capable of playing high-intensity pressing football.

This, unfortunately, isn't brand new information for those who watch Manchester United each and every week.

It has been abundantly clear for months, even years, that the current squad does not have anywhere near enough quality to challenge at the top of the Premier League, and it's a push to even say they are among the best four teams in the country. The current 2021/22 table says as much.

Individually, maybe, but as a team? Not a chance. There's simply no cohesion and no fundamental understanding of the demands of modern football. There's no reason for any player to watch United and think, mmm, I fancy going there to progress my game; Declan Rice included.

Ralf Rangnick's reign has been blighted by continued lapses in concentration, poor decision making and a lack of leadership. There's even a lack of fitness you could argue, given how United's press seems to fall apart after 35-40 minutes of most games.

Many will point the finger at the interim manager for Rangnick for allowing these sub-standard displays to go on, but many also recognise that this is an inherent problem for a group of players who simply don't match the high standards set when you play for Manchester United.

"Unfortunately it was very similar to the last couple of games. A very good first half, very good first half hour," a dejected Rangnick told BT Sport after this latest debacle.

"We did all the things we intended to do with the counter attacks and the deep runs. We created, scored a great goal. Then we stopped doing that; at the end of the first half we didn't do those things anymore and then in the second we lost a bit of shape."

The question is why did United stop? Why did they lose momentum when they were on top and leading the game? That's something the German is seemingly still unable to explain, though what he does know is that their inability to hold onto a lead and inefficiency in front of goal has caused Cristiano Ronaldo to endure his worst goal drought since January 2009.

Where United go from here is anybody's guess, but the ease in which Southampton - a team in the bottom half of the table - manoeuvred their defence around to fashion chances in and around the penalty area, as well as assuming full control for the best part of an hour, will be of great, great concern.

In fact, the only positive to take away from more dropped points was the performance of Sancho - who after struggling to regularly get into United's side, looked like the only player capable of unlocking the door for his desperately poor teammates.

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