Patience is key with Sancho, but there were positive signs against Villarreal
Jadon Sancho played 75 minutes on his first Champions League start at Old Trafford in Manchester United’s 2-1 win against Villarreal before being replaced by Nemanja Matic.
It may have been another game that the 21-year-old didn’t directly contribute to a United goal, but his threat is growing.
Playing on the left of a formidable front line, Sancho was up against former Tottenham man Juan Foyth at right-back for Villarreal.
The former Dortmund man was eager to get the ball off left-back Alex Telles at every opportunity but as expected Unai Emery’s side kept space to run into at a premium.
Out of possession, Foyth was helped by the energetic Yeremi Pino, who stuck to his defensive duties resolutely.
How did Sancho perform?
In the moments that Sancho was able to isolate Foyth and run at the Argentine, the Villarreal defence became nervous and therefore did all they good to shut off the supply down the right-hand side.
With United breaking in the first half, Sancho played a perfectly weighted pass into Cristiano Ronaldo, but the 36-year-old’s attempted pass to Mason Greenwood, who would have been clean through on goal was intercepted.
For all of Sancho’s positive attacking intent, in the same breath he could then lose possession cheaply in his next involvement.
Once the half-time whistle was blown, Bruno Fernandes had a chat with Sancho and it seems clear at the moment that Sancho is adapting to the team and vice versa with the team learning how to play with the likes of Ronaldo and Sancho.
He showed his dribbling qualities when he skipped past Pino with ease. There were moments when he looked to have gotten away from Foyth but the right-back recovered and managed to get a last ditch tackle in.
The quick interchanges on the edge of the box aren’t coming off at the moment, but when they do United could carve teams open at will.
Sancho continued to work hard for the team and helped out defensively whenever Telles required help.
Shortly after Telles’ wonder strike, Sancho had a great chance to open his United account, but slipped when taking his shot which Geronimo Rulli saved comfortably.
The £73m (BBC Sport) signing from Dortmund will be hoping his performance is enough to retain a place in Solskjaer’s starting line-up against Everton on Saturday.
United are finding a way to win games without performing, but once Sancho joins the party, our forward line will be given another frightening dimension.
Patience is key with Sancho because once he starts to click and the confidence returns, United will become a completely different proposition.