Gareth Southgate right to omit Jadon Sancho from England squad?

“There are other attacking players in our squad who are ahead of him in our opinion,” Gareth Southgate reasoned when asked to explain why Jadon Sancho had been omitted from his England squad. “Jadon in the last few weeks his performances have improved but it is an area of the pitch where we have competition for places.”


There is indeed stiff competition for attacking places in Southgate’s squad right now. Phil Foden and Bukayo Saka, to name two players capable of playing in Sancho’s position, are in exceptional form for their clubs. Nonetheless, the England manager’s comments don’t do justice to the dramatic improvement made in Sancho’s recent performances.


Manchester United might have struggled of late, suffering a heavy defeat in the Manchester derby earlier this month and crashing out of the Champions League at home to Atletico Madrid, but Sancho can’t be blamed for this. While the 21-year-old needed some time to settle in at Old Trafford following his summer switch from Borussia Dortmund, he has been United’s best, most consistent player for a number of weeks now.


As an attacking hub, there are few in the Premier League as effective as Sancho is. The 24-year-old is an excellent dribbler, knows how to create a one-on-one scenario, is capable of threading a pass through to a teammate and carries a goal threat. After a slow start, Sancho has become the player around which Manchester United have built their attack.


Of course, none of this should come as a surprise. United paid £73m for Sancho, after chasing him for nearly two years, precisely because of his skill set as one of the best young attackers in the European game. He earned this reputation over three seasons in the Bundesliga where he notched 50 goals and 64 assists in 137 appearances for Dortmund.


“Jadon Sancho is now getting closer to the Jadon Sancho I’ve known from Germany,” Rangnick said when asked to explain why Sancho is now performing at a higher level for Manchester United. “In the end it’s all about confidence. Game time, confidence. Confidence, game time. He was performing at a very high level.


“The club paid quite a few pounds for him in order to lure him away from Borussia Dortmund and if you pay that amount of money in a transfer fee for a player, he should perform on this kind of level. He told me that of course it was a problem for him to get adjusted to the intensity of the league, to the physicality of the league. Now he has managed to do that.”


Compared to another elite level wide man who also made the switch to a Manchester club last summer, Sancho is clearer on what his role is. Jack Grealish has been something of a peripheral figure for Manchester City this season despite his £100m price tag, yet he has been included in Southgate’s England squad.


Emile Smith Rowe is another who is fortunate to have been included in the 25-man squad for the friendlies against Switzerland and Ivory Coast over Sancho. Smith Rowe has certainly played his part in Arsenal’s 2021/22 campaign to date, but he has started just two of his last five Premier League appearances. The 21-year-old isn’t a central pillar for the Gunners like Sancho is for United.


Marcus Rashford was another Manchester United omitted by Southgate, and justifiably so given the low standard of his recent performances. It’s possible Sancho has been lumped in with Rashford on the basis of their team’s poor form, but without their £73m winger the Old Trafford outfit would be in an even worse position.



Author: Lucas Carlson