Jadon Sancho has been released from the England squad by the FA after he sustained a knock which made him unavailable for selection in the team’s game against Hungary.
However the FA have stated that the knock is not serious, and the player should be available for Manchester United’s Premier League fixture against Newcastle United.
Many United fans are excited about that fixture, due to the expectation that Cristiano Ronaldo will make his debut. Newcastle are the only side that Ronaldo scored a hat-trick against in the Premier League during his first spell with the club.
With all eyes on Ronaldo, however, the lack of pressure on Sancho’s shoulders will allow him to flourish, especially with a striker of Ronaldo’s playstyle and calibre to play into.
Mason Greenwood has been in great form so far this season, scoring three goals in the first three games. He played in the number nine position against Wolverhampton Wanderers while Sancho played on the wing.
Greenwood has improved his movement around the box under the mentorship of Edinson Cavani, however, inside the box, he still has a lot to learn which I feel deeply impacted Sancho’s game.
When United have the ball out on the wing, the movement within the box is still limited unless Cavani is on the pitch. This, I believe, contributed to Sancho’s poor performance against Wolves as he had limited outlets to play into.
He only won 29% of his offensive duels, but only attempted three passes into the box and you could see during the game when he was not presented with an option, he was forced to attempt a dribble to try and drive the ball forward, usually in unfavourable situations.
Now with the arrival of Ronaldo, Sancho will have a new outlet to play the ball in to.
Ronaldo’s ability in the air adds a new dimension to United’s attack. His highest ever vertical leap came in a game for Juventus against Sampdoria where he jumped to a height of 8.9ft in the air.
And, of course, United fans will remember his famous header against us in the Champions League with Real Madrid, where he nearly leaped over the full height of an unsuspecting Patrice Evra.
Having a forward who can nearly jump as high as an NBA player is something that many teams will not be able to find an answer to, and with new set-piece coach Eric Ramsey added to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s backroom staff, it is not only something the wingers like Sancho can exploit.
Ronaldo, like Cavani, also has awareness in the box that usually only experience can bring. Strikers of that calibre know where to go in the box and when, and hopefully Greenwood will gain a similar understanding over time.
Whereas Greenwood likes the ball at his feet so he can trick defenders and drive into the box, Ronaldo and Cavani prefer the ball played into feet so they can quickly turn the chance into a shot and hopefully a goal.
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Ronaldo scored 17 goals from open play last season, and 11 of them came within the penalty area. This is also similar to the season before where he scored 15 goals from open play and 13 were from inside the six-yard box.
Having a constant target to play into will undoubtedly make Sancho look a lot better.
There is one more player that needs to step up to improve Sancho’s game and that is Aaron Wan Bissaka, however, that understanding will come with time.
Sancho likes to link up with the players around him and make smart runs to take defenders out of the game. As Wan Bissaka becomes more confident going forward and plays more with Sancho, they will gain an understanding similar to the one Marcus Rashford and Luke Shaw have.
The Newcastle game should prove to be grounding for a lot of the tactics and ideas that Solskjaer wants to implement for the coming season, now he has his full team assembled, and Sancho will have a big opportunity to prove himself.
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