Man Utd must learn from Chelsea lesson after manager dropped 8 players and lost

Tommy Docherty, then manager of Chelsea, once dropped eight players for breaking a curfew on a training trip to Blackpool.

The hollowed-out team, deprived of the likes of Terry Venables, John Hollins and Eddie McCreadie, that Docherty put out against Burnley went down 6-2.

Flexing your muscles as a manager – particularly on such a Charles Atlas scale – does not always work.

But in the case of Jadon Sancho, Erik ten Hag has acted wisely for Manchester United in cold-shouldering his whingeing winger.

Sending Sancho to the naughty step to train on his own could go one of two ways.

When the United manager dropped Marcus Rashford for the game against Wolves last season for being late to a team meeting, Rashford was soon back and on the way to his most productive campaigns at the club.

When Ten Hag dropped Cristiano Ronaldo for refusing to come on as a substitute against Spurs, it marked the beginning of the end. 

It seems more likely in the case of Sancho that he will be on his way before long too – and for substantially less than the £73m United paid for him given his output since his arrival from Borussia Dortmund.

But regardless of  the long-term outcome, maintaining internal discipline in the short-term is essential for the health of the team.

It has not been easy for Ten Hag.  At United, with blazes breaking out left, right and centre, the manager’s role must feel rather like that of a firefighter.

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At a club of United’s size with big-name players with big egos and big agents everything is big news. But this just makes it even more important that the manager manages to keep control of them.

Sancho may feel it is unfair that Ten Hag can choose to call him out in the media over his training standards and yet he cannot defend himself publicly.

And it is to an extent but that is the nature of the deal.

The player/manager relationship, by its nature, has to be hierarchical.

There are different ways of framing that relationship and not every manager has to be a Rottweiler. For every Alex Ferguson, there can be a Bobby Robson; for every Steve Evans, a Claudio Ranieri.

But it can never be a marriage of equals.

A player has to do his talking behind closed doors. In claiming on his social media account he had been made a scapegoat, that Ten Hag’s version of events was completely untrue and that there was more to his exclusion from the defeat at Arsenal than simply ropey rondos, Sancho was speaking from the heart but also shooting dangerously from the hip.

He was effectively calling out Ten Hag as a liar.

Ten Hag simply could not have let such rebelliousness go without risking the collapse of his authority.

Quite why Sancho thought it would be a good idea to pen what equated to a 110-word public transfer request and leave it up for nine days on his personal Twitter account – or X as it is now known – is a mystery.

Maybe he reasoned it would teach Ten Hag a lesson.

Maybe he overassessed his own importance.

Maybe he was just plain daft.

Whatever, as a piece of a strategic miscalculation it was right up there with Luis Rubiales sealing Spain’s Women’s World Cup win with a kiss.

A few home truths. Having arrived at United in the summer of 2021 with high hopes that he could prove to be one of the most exciting additions of recent times, Sancho has proven a let-down.

Twelve goals and six assists in 82 appearances are not the sort of numbers the club would have hoped for.

Sancho’s England career has stalled too. The last of his 23 caps came almost two years ago.

It is not as if United have not gone the extra mile with him. Ten Hag went out on a limb last season in arranging for the 23-year-old to spend time in the Netherlands working on his physical and mental health.

So for him to be  frustrated with Sancho now is totally justified.

In Ten Hag, Sancho has picked a fight with the wrong opponent.

If he was tough enough to see off a global superstar like Ronaldo in his mission to sort out the ‘not good’ culture at Old Trafford, then a spat with Sancho is not going to cost the Dutchman much sleep.

He has a lot on his plate but no-one can be in any  doubt that he remains steadfastly the man in charge.


Good week – Farhad Moshiri

Everton’s owner looks finally have found a route out of the nightmare that his time as the club owner has turned into.

The deal to sell the club to American investment firm 777 Partners will not recoup the £750m Moshiro has poured down a black hole since he became a shareholder seven years ago but it will stop the bleeding – and the stick – provided it is signed off by the Premier League.

Whether it will turn out to be quite such a good week for Everton only time will tell.

The other clubs in the group’s portfolio are hardly tearing up trees and fans of Belgian side Standard Liege were out protesting last week against their  owners, the founder of which Josh Wanda, was convicted for cocaine trafficking when he was a student. 

Out of the frying pan into the fire?


Bad week – Dave Cherry

The Scotland hooker is out of the Rugby World Cup with concussion – suffered on a day off falling down the stairs at the team hotel.

Concussion is no laughing matter in rugby but Cherry’s unfortunate incident is one to add with a hint of a smile to the canon of all-time strangest sporting injuries. 

Dave Beasant once severed a tendon dropping a jar of salad cream on his toe, Darren Fletcher was knocked out by a toilet door after a Champions League game and Rio Ferdinand injured a knee tendon putting his feet up to watch TV.

England all-rounder Derek Pringle injured his back writing a letter, Jofra Archer needing surgery on a finger cut suffered cleaning his fish tank and 

Kim Clijsters damaged ankle ligaments dancing at a wedding.

It’s a fine list and this latest addition is just the Cherry on top.

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