Jadon Sancho is training away from Man Utd’s first team pending the resolution of a “squad discipline issue”; Erik ten Hag wants an apology after the winger said he had been made a “scapegoat”; Sancho’s frustrations at United predate Ten Hag’s arrival
By Kaveh Solhekol and Melissa Reddy
Erik ten Hag wants Jadon Sancho to apologise for his social media post claiming to have been “made a scapegoat for a long time” before the winger returns to the Manchester United first team.
United said on Thursday that Sancho is currently on a “personal training programme” pending the resolution of a “squad discipline issue”.
Ten Hag is not prepared to back down and will not allow his authority to be challenged. He wants Sancho to apologise to him and the club, otherwise he will not play for United under the manager.
Ten Hag has no problem with players approaching him privately to discuss his decisions but they cannot criticise him or the club, or vent their frustrations, in a public forum.
However, Sancho has so far refused to meet Ten Hag’s demands for an apology, believing he was within his rights to respond to the criticism that was shared to a global audience and he saw as questioning his professionalism.
Sources close to Sancho feel he has been unfairly treated and that there has been an inconsistent implementation of the rules at the club, with some in the squad seen as being given preferential treatment.
However, United’s counter is that Ten Hag’s application of football-related discipline has been indiscriminate, stretching to Marcus Rashford, Cristiano Ronaldo and Alejandro Garnacho when they have breached required rules or standards.
The frustrations of Sancho – who moved to Old Trafford from Borussia Dortmund under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in 2021 – predate Ten Hag’s appointment.
Sancho was left out of United’s matchday squad for the trip to Arsenal on Sunday September 3, with Ten Hag explaining afterwards the decision was due to poor training performances.
Later the same evening, the 23-year-old claimed he had been “a scapegoat for a long time” in a social media post and said Ten Hag’s claims were “completely untrue”.
Following the online outburst, Sancho was linked with a shock move to Saudi Arabia on loan but ended up staying at Old Trafford amid planned talks between him and the coaching staff this week.
The post was deleted on Tuesday but only after it had been viewed more than 60 million times.
There is some sympathy for Sancho within the United camp but not for the way he has gone about things.
Some players think Sancho has been training well since the summer and should not be singled out for criticism, but no one thinks he should have challenged the manager in public.
John Murtough, the director of football, and Richard Arnold, the chief executive, have been brought in to sort out the issue between the player and the manager, with the club hoping for a quick resolution.
This is not the first time England international Sancho has been excluded from United training under Ten Hag, with the winger undergoing an individual fitness programme in the Netherlands last season which saw him watch the World Cup from afar.
During that period, Sancho did not play for United between October 22 and February 1 but did play in the Carabao Cup final win over Newcastle upon his return and ended last season with seven goals and three assists for United.
Sancho’s latest absence from the first-team group raises concerns about their numbers in the right-wing position, with Antony delaying his return to the club amid allegations of assault.
The Brazilian winger denies the claims but has been placed on a leave of absence on full pay and is not suspended.
Ahead of Man Utd’s game with Brighton on Saturday, Garnacho and Facundo Pellistri are the only recognised wide options alongside Rashford, who normally operates from the left and central positions.
What Ten Hag and Sancho said about each other
“On his performance on training, we didn’t select him,” Ten Hag said when asked about Sancho’s absence from the squad against Arsenal.
“You have to reach the level every day at Manchester United. You can make choices in the front line so in this game he wasn’t selected.”
But following Ten Hag’s comments in the post-match press conference, Sancho issued a statement on X, formerly known as Twitter, saying: “Please don’t believe everything you read!
“I will not allow people saying things that is completely untrue. I have conducted myself in training very well this week.
“I believe there are other reasons for this matter that I won’t get into. I’ve been a scapegoat for a long time which isn’t fair!
“All I want to do is to play football with a smile on my face and contribute to my team.”