Jadon Sancho is starting to show why Manchester United wanted to sign him from Man City – Steven Railston

Manchester United’s choice of language when announcing the signing of Jadon Sancho this summer was interesting.

“This is his home, this is where he belongs,” was written across social media. That tweet currently has close to 175,000 likes and yet Sancho was actually born in Camberwell, South London, which is just over 200 miles away from Manchester.

It was also a better announcement than Alexis Sanchez playing the piano at Old Trafford, although that’s not really saying much.

The language used in the tweet was deliberate. It was an obvious swipe at Manchester City. It was the Reds’ own modern-day version of ‘Welcome to Manchester, Carlos Tevez’. Sancho had spent two years in City’s academy and United pushed hard to sign him in 2017 after learning that he was unsettled at the Etihad. Since then, it always felt inevitable that Sancho would sign for United.

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Sancho was born in South London and supported Chelsea growing up, yet there was a strange, tangible feeling growing among supporters that he was always destined to wear red. The extent to which Sancho quickly excelled in Borussia Dortmund after he left City was impressive and under every highlight reel that appeared online were comments from excited United fans.

Then it began to seem that, in this world, there was nothing certain except death, taxes and United being linked with Sancho in every transfer window. Sancho was dazzling in Germany with his performances making those at home stand up and pay attention.

Sancho was perhaps brave to take a road less travelled by British players when he moved to Dortmund but that perceived gamble immediately paid off. He was playing week in and week out and in an environment geared towards nurturing his talent.

United continued to chase Sancho and yet talks to sign him collapsed last summer. Old Trafford chiefs had scouted Sancho extensively and they weren’t prepared to be disheartened by that development. They were simply relentless in their pursuit of the winger.

The framework was finally agreed for Sancho to join United in the summer for £72.9m. It had been a transfer four years in the making and it was always going to be impossible for the youngster to match the expectations that had been brewing over that period.

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Sancho started slowly at United, but his ineffectiveness in matches was a product of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s lack of a distinct plan for the player, which was bizarre considering United had wanted Sancho so much. How can you try to sign a player for years and not have a plan on how best to use him upon his arrival? Only Solskjaer can answer that. He felt partly responsible for Sancho’s form.

Solskjaer left the club and suddenly there were glimpses of the Sancho that had ascended to one of Europe’s most exciting young talents at Dortmund. It didn’t feel like a coincidence. Sancho got his first goal in the first game after Solskjaer’s exit.

It was hard not to feel delighted for Sancho after that goal against Villarreal. The expectation and pressure that playing for a club of United’s stature should not be underestimated and the demands of the Premier League are vastly different to the Bundesliga.

Sancho has improved each week after that night in Spain. He was unfortunate to be taken off against Crystal Palace and again away at Norwich when Marcus Rashford was the obvious candidate to be called towards the bench. He seems to be rediscovering his confidence and swagger on the pitch and it’s telling that he’s now trying to beat a man when he wasn’t two months ago.

Sancho is still only 21 and United have placed their bets on his long-term potential, however, he’s now starting to deliver in the short-term. Ralf Rangnick knows all about his talent – having watched him in Germany – and he’s the perfect mentor for Sancho.

The first few months of his United career were difficult, but it seems he’s overcome that rough start and it’s now time to kick on.

There’s a reason why United chased Sancho for four years and supporters are starting to see it.

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