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‘I’m not a gambler’ – Erik ten Hag speaks out on pivotal Jadon Sancho decision at Manchester United

‘I’m not a gambler’ – Erik ten Hag speaks out on pivotal Jadon Sancho decision at Manchester United

According to Erik ten Hag, his decision to allow Jadon Sancho a break from playing for Manchester United  this season was not a risky one. Ten Hag granted Sancho time off to address both physical and mental concerns, which included working with coaches he was familiar with in the Netherlands.

Sancho has returned to action in great shape, scoring in a substitute appearance against Leeds on Wednesday, and it is clear that he has a renewed energy and joy for playing.

Ten Hag’s management of Sancho has been widely praised, but the decision to allow the winger time away did leave him with fewer attacking options.

Sancho missed United’s training camp in Spain in December and was not part of the squad for the first 11 matches after the season resumed after the World Cup.

But Ten Hag did not see the decision to allow Sancho time away from the club during the season as a risk, insisting: “I don’t gamble. If you want to gamble you go to the casino and you can’t do that as a football manager.”

Since his return to the club, the 22-year-old Sancho appears to be refreshed and revitalized. He has played a half hour in games against Nottingham Forest and Leeds at Old Trafford, and his relationship with the fans has improved during those matches.

Ten Hag acknowledges that it is impossible to say with certainty that Sancho’s issues are completely resolved, but he emphasizes that just as he pushes his players to perform, he will also be there to support them if they face any problems in the future.

“It’s a personal thing and you don’t know in any head what is going on and I think you have to respect that,” said Ten Hag. “I support every player, I back every player where I can and I want to ensure that we have a good team spirit; ensure and encourage and motivate all the players to give their best.

“So I will push them and I will be there, and my coaches as well, if they have problems and we will help them to sort them out.”

The careful and considerate manner in which Ten Hag has handled the situation is another example of his astute man-management, and he has been instrumental in transforming the club’s team spirit.

During the offseason, he focused on acquiring characters who would facilitate this, and he has frequently addressed the matter in media appearances this year, with players claiming that the dressing room is as close as it has been in a long time.

In August, Ten Hag instructed his players to run 13.7 kilometers in 30 degree heat the day following a loss to Brentford. This was a pivotal moment in the formation of this team spirit.

That was the distance by which they were outrun on that particular day, but Ten Hag didn’t just order his players to run; he joined in himself, earning a great deal of respect.

“We are together. We win together and we lose together. So I’m in the boat as well, as my coaches are. We are together with the dressing room, with the players, we are in there,” he said.

“I think we have quality in the dressing room with the players, with the coaching staff and we have to get results because we get paid for that. We have to take that responsibility. Every day, every match, we have to prove that; prove that to the club and to our fans. That’s our responsibility.”

Ten Hag finished the run even though he was 52 years old at the time and admits it was a significant challenge. However, the fitness and energy levels of his players have improved throughout the season, and he now finds it difficult to keep up with them.

“Yes it is [a big task] but if it has to be, then we do it. It doesn’t matter what age (you are) … but be sure I can’t run any more what they bring on the pitch!,” he said.

‘I’m not a gambler’ – Erik ten Hag speaks out on pivotal Jadon Sancho decision at Manchester United

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