Manchester United booked their first trip to Wembley since May 2018 following a comfortable 2-0 win against Nottingham Forest in the second leg of the League Cup semi-final.
Erik ten Hag didn’t show much desire to experiment with his lineup and fielded a strong starting XI despite going into the tie with a 3-0 aggregate advantage. However, the Dutch coach wasn’t afraid of deploying his players in different roles.
Jadon Sancho received a brilliant reception from the Old Trafford crowd when he came off the bench, as he made his first appearance in just over 100 days. The 22-year-old returned the favour by producing an encouraging performance from the middle of the attack.
The United boss shifted Bruno Fernandes to the right flank and instructed Sancho to operate behind Anthony Martial.
His return to action was exciting on its own, but Ten Hag’s decision to play the Englishman as the No. 10 only made the night more rousing at the Theatre of Dreams.
Ten Hag: “Jadon [Sancho], I know he can play as a #10 and a winger. We can mix it often and that is what I like.” [Sky Sports]
— UtdDistrict (@UtdDistrict) February 1, 2023
Very interesting how Bruno out wide worked a lot better with Sancho in the free role, rather than Van De Beek. Sancho regularly makes himself available, and isn't afraid of taking more than one touch, moving, interchanging. Lot more actual interplay.
— UnitedMuppetiers (@Muppetiers) February 1, 2023
Would like to see Sancho in the number 10 again. Something I suggested a month or so ago was trying him in the an 8/10 role, a lot of his best work happens in the half spaces and centre of the pitch, rather than on the sideline. Would love to see more.
— Charlie (@ThreadmanChaza) February 1, 2023
Sancho’s cameo certainly did the trick against Forest, as the Red Devils scored two second-half goals to keep their home-winning run going.
Ten Hag’s creative game management also saw Victor Lindelof have a run as United’s defensive midfielder. The centre-back replaced Casemiro for the final 10 minutes of the game and helped his side keep another clean sheet.