Jadon Sancho gets the ball rolling for Manchester United in the Richard Arnold era with goal against Middlesbrough… his strike was a reminder of what the £73m man can bring after a difficult Old Trafford start
- Manchester United endured a difficult week before their FA Cup tie on Friday
- The Mason Greenwood scandal dominated their pre-Middlesbrough coverage
- But Jadon Sancho reminded fans what he can bring to United’s attack with a goal
- Sancho hit the bar early on but made up for it with a deflected first-half strike
Richard Arnold’s first game as Manchester United chief executive and it was announced shortly before half-time on Friday night that technical problems meant food and drink were off the menu at Old Trafford.
Another cyber-attack? Unlikely, but Arnold can only hope it is not an omen after he officially succeeded Ed Woodward at the helm on Tuesday.
To say it has been something of a difficult first week for Arnold is an understatement in the wake of Mason Greenwood’s arrest and the obvious concern that has caused among United’s sponsors.
A difficult first week for Richard Arnold as Man United CEO became more agonising on Friday
United fans were told at half-time on Friday night that there was no food or drink available
It didn’t get any easier on Friday night as Championship club Middlesbrough dumped United out of the FA Cup at the fourth round stage despite Ralf Rangnick’s side taking an early lead.
Jadon Sancho got the ball rolling with the first goal of the Arnold era, and that will be welcome news for the player and his club.
It’s a measure of United’s malaise this season that Sancho’s issues have largely gone under the radar.
A new £73million signing experiencing these troubles would normally attract far greater attention.
Jadon Sancho (above) fed the hungry United fans with a superb first-half goal at Old Trafford
But the sacking of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and problems afflicting a number of team-mates have taken the spotlight off the England player.
Whether it’s Paul Pogba drifting towards another unsatisfactory Old Trafford exit in the summer, Harry Maguire’s loss of form, Marcus Rashford’s loss of confidence or the raft of unhappy players who began to ship out in the January transfer window, Sancho’s false start at United could have had far worse consequences for him.
There was a period after Solskjaer’s sacking when he scored his first goals for United under caretaker manager Michael Carrick against Villarreal and Chelsea, and everything seemed to be falling into place at last.
But Sancho has slipped backwards again under Rangnick, starting just five of the German’s 11 games in charge.
He made the line-up for the first time in a month on Friday night and put United ahead in the 25th minute.
The 21-year-old had already seen a clever chip hit the bar within 90 seconds and then he scored when he fired past goalkeeper Joe Lumley with the help of a deflection.
The £73million signing hit the bar after first two minutes as Sancho looked in the mood
But Sancho eventually found his goal as he hit home a deflected effort from inside the box
‘Sancho’s reaction is fantastic,’ said Roy Keane on ITV. ‘It’s as if someone has told him to simplify his game. Make forward runs. One touch, it’s on target. It will do him the world of good.’
Sancho looked a lot brighter throughout on the left flank, more like the player who persuaded United to sign him.
There was an injury scare when he clutched his leg in the final moments of normal time, and he then hobbled off 10 minutes into extra time.
On a tough night for United when everyone at Old Trafford went hungry, at least Sancho was able to give us a little food for thought.
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