- Mar 10, 2021
- Ajax & United
Very insightful posts and I hope you're wrong but fear that you're right.Sancho is a playmaker. He's one who excels in tight spaces, is an expert in unlocking defensive lines and has a very broad tool set for that. I think what's most impressive is the way he creates passing lines for himself. His body feints and foot work are incredibly hard to defend and he doesn't need to completely send you the wrong way to utilize it. Drag backs and a drop of the shoulder, setting you slightly on the wrong foot and playing the ball through the lane that opened up for a one two that takes multiple players out of the game. He recycles possession very well and still advances the ball all the time. He doesn't really dribble through pace or acceleration but lures players, drags them out of position and then utilizes the spaces left open. One of those players who's better at taking out multiple defenders while dribbling through the middle than beating one in an isolated one on one on the wings.
Now many think that this is exactly what United need but I'm a bit cautious with that. Because in the end, Sancho is a player that plays off other players. He utilizes the runs of his team mates in his dribblings and one twos. He needs players in close proximity to link up. He needs to get the ball back because he plays many short passes to absorb pressure instead of "forcing" it. And that's leading me to the EPL and physicality bit. I believe when players like Bernardo Silva can excel in this league, Sancho can do it easily, too. But this is a question of the team shape - if he has movement around him, if he can "avoid" physical duels and being bullied, he has no issue with it. But if he has to rely on fending off defenders or outpacing them, it will be difficult. Like many Bundesliga players, he's used to very organized football in general and I'm not sure that's the case at United. I also believe that this was the reason why players such as Mkhitaryan or Kagawa couldn't reproduce their Bundesliga form. Physical players have it much easier because they can deal with the physicality. Havertz was a similar case and to an extent Werner, too. They did much better when they found more structure under Tuchel and sometimes were bullied under Lampard.
The right wing for me is a bit of a red flag. Sancho is clearly an inverted winger, he even plays inverted when he is being played on the right. And there isn't a single world class inverted winger on this planet who doesn't prefer to play with his strong foot inside, it just provides you with more opportunities and makes it easier to recycle possession. So that alone is a very strong argument that Sancho will end up on the left - this season, he played his best football there.
Anyway, he's definitely better than most at utilizing his strengthes on the other side, too. Stylewise he's very similar to Neymar for me but Neymar would never in a million years play on the right while Sancho can still do a job there. Anyway, it is important to consider how he did that exactly. Because most of the time he was played on the right for Dortmund, it was with Hakimi playing as a RWB, providing width. Sancho then played as a right or left sided ten in this system. He didn't clutch the line, he played in the right half spaces where he could link up with many players excellently.
But at United, you don't play with three man at the back and you don't have a Hakimi but a Wan-Bissaka - a good player in his own right but not somebody who can pose a continuous attacking thread so chances are Sancho will end up isolated - and that's when he's at his worst. As I said, he needs movement surrounding him, team mates dragging players out of positions etc. So I'm skeptical regarding this. I hope mid to long term, he'll become first choice at LW for you guys because that's where he'll be at his best. Maybe Diallo - Greenwood - Sancho is the future, who knows.