“Scapegoat” – Sancho hits back after Ten Hag’s post-match comments about him

Manchester United's Raphael Varane and Jadon Sancho during the warm up before the match.

Reuters/Carl Recine

Manchester United returned from North London empty-handed yet again, as two stoppage-time goals from Arsenal overshadowed Marcus Rashford’s opener.

Arsenal took all three points but the 3-1 scoreline certainly flattered them. Up until Declan Rice’s 96th-minute goal from a set piece which was then followed by Gabriel Jesus’s strike in 101th minute, the game was hung tightly in the balance at 1-1. The visitors even put the ball into the back of the net for a second time through Alejandro Garnacho in the 87th minute; only for it to be ruled out for a very close off-side call from VAR.

As such, Erik ten Hag didn’t have much to say about his team’s defeat in his post-match interview, with the Dutch coach choosing to highlight the officials’ errors instead. But what really made the headlines was his comment on Jadon Sancho, who wasn’t even part of the squad that travelled to the Emirates stadium.

When asked about the Englishman’s absence, the United boss said: “Jadon, on his performances in training we did not select him.”

The scathing remark is yet another blow for Sancho, who has simply not managed to cement his place in Ten Hag’s starting XI, having been a quiet presence in United’s frontline ever since his arrival from Borussia Dortmund.

However, he didn’t remain quiet off the pitch and was quick to react on social media. The 23-year-old wrote on X: “Please don’t believe everything you read! I will not allow people saying things that is (sic) 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 go into, l’ve been a scapegoat for a long time which isn’t fair! All I want to do is play football with a smile on my face and contribute to my team.

“I respect all decisions that are made by the coaching staff, I play with fantastic players and (am) grateful to do so which I know every week is a challenge. I will continue to fight for this badge no matter what!”

It’s good to see Sancho is still willing to fight “for the badge” but reacting in such a manner publicly is certainly not a very smart move, especially if one is yet to fully convince the manager of his qualities.

As United enter the international break, Sancho, who hasn’t been called up to England’s squad, will have a very good opportunity to sit down with Ten Hag and talk things out as well as impress him in training.