Jadon Sancho may have been a tad relieved to swerve Manchester United’s massacre at home to Liverpool.
Well, you know what they say about those who miss such a horrible, hefty defeat immediately becoming an even better player – thanks to their absence.
Cliche maybe but often very true – unless your boss happens to be Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
How many times last season did Donny Van de Beek sit on United’s bench, kicking his £35million heels, thinking he must be in line for a start next time round, so rubbish were Solskjaer’s men – only to be left out again and again and again?
The Dutchman, reportedly, is a great trainer – or at least that was the word coming out of Carrington when he arrived at Old Trafford in September 2020 amid much fanfare and optimism he could provide one of the midfield links so conspicuously lacking.
Yet Solskjaer has shunned him from the outset. He has barely had a kick from the start of a game – and on the rare occasions that he has – has invariably been subbed and left out the next week.
Now, clearly nobody can say he is the answer to anything because there is no evidence upon which to judge that.
The flip side to that, of course, is neither can anyone say he is not good enough because there is no evidence to base that view upon.
For the record, this season in the Premier League that evidence amounts to FIVE minutes for. Sancho, meanwhile, has ‘enjoyed’ three starts, plus four substitute appearances.
And therein lies a disastrous blind spot in Solskjaer’s managerial make up – the exact one that ultimately led to Frank Lampard cutting his own throat at Chelsea.
This time last year Antonio Rudiger, Cesar Azpilcueta and Marcos Alonso could not get a game under Lampard.
The then-Chelsea chief had frozen the trio out – and, by the way, Italian ace Jorginho was heading for the scrapheap.
That all now sounds utterly preposterous – and truly inconceivable – given how integral each is for Thomas Tuchel’s Premier League leaders and Champions League holders.
One can only wonder what Lampard, a remarkably bright, innovative football coach, could have been thinking with his refusal to budge.
Guess the trouble could be that the longer you take such a stance, the harder it is to back down. A stubborn manager must hate admitting to his squad he has got it so terribly wrong.
But if they do not, it ultimately means only one ending – the sack.
Which is why Solskjaer better wake up quick – and start utilising the obvious quality at his disposal.
That means Sancho has to start against Tottenham and Van de Beek, too, if relationships are not broken beyond repair with the ex-Ajax man.
This doesn’t mean hauling them off after 50 minutes either – and thereafter forgetting they exist should they not deliver straightaway.
Like anybody in any profession, it can take a little while to get into a rhythm – particularly an elite sportsman who has been cold shouldered for such a lengthy period.
It may well be too late to spare himself the axe but it has to be worth a shot for Solsjkaer.
Let’s face it, the other way is not working!