EPL

Ten Hag blunt on Sancho availability but says Wan-Bissaka has Man Utd future

By Sports Desk December 22, 2022

Erik ten Hag provided a blunt reply when asked when Jadon Sancho will return for Manchester United but insisted Aaron Wan-Bissaka has a future at the club.

Sancho last featured for United on October 22 in a 1-1 draw against Chelsea and was omitted from England's World Cup squad.

The winger did not travel with the squad for a warm-weather training camp in Spain during the domestic break for Qatar 2022 either, having instead been placed on an individual programme to work on his fitness.

United were back in action on Wednesday in a 2-0 triumph over Burnley in the EFL Cup and manager Ten Hag was asked if he knew when Sancho would be available for selection by Sky Sports, to which he merely replied: "No."

Pressed on if there was a timeline for the former Borussia Dortmund star's return to action, Ten Hag gave the same reply.

However, he did provide a lengthier response to questions about Wan-Bissaka, who has struggled with injuries this season.

The full-back set up Christian Eriksen for United's first goal, before Marcus Rashford's fine individual effort sealed United's progression to the last eight.

Wan-Bissaka has struggled for consistency since arriving from Crystal Palace in 2019 and has been linked with a return to the Eagles.

Ten Hag, though, says the defender can cement a place at Old Trafford.

"Aaron Wan-Bissaka, it is clear he has a future," Ten Hag told reporters on Wednesday. "He's had some good years with United, but from the start of this season he had a lot of illnesses and injuries, and so was running behind.

"His fitness levels are getting better, his performance levels are getting better.

"When you get an assist, especially the way he got that assist with his movement and the right moment, the timing and then great pass of course from Bruno [Fernandes]. But this is great and so I'm happy with his performance. He did good."

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    Erik ten Hag admits he does not know whether or not he has managed Manchester United for the last time, after guiding the Red Devils to FA Cup glory.

    The Dutchman led his team out against Manchester City in a repeat of last year's final with his job reportedly on the line, regardless of the result ahead of the final at Wembley.

    Nevertheless, the Red Devils produced a spirited performance with first-half goals from Alejandro Garnacho and Kobbie Mainoo eventually enough to secure a 2-1 win over their rivals.

    It provided a happy ending to a difficult season for United, in which they recorded their lowest Premier League finish of eighth, but still managed to snatch European football for next term.

    However, speculation and question marks continue to hang over the future of Ten Hag, who waved to United supporters during the team's lap of honour after collecting his second trophy in as many years at Old Trafford.

    But the former Ajax head coach remains tight-lipped on what will happen next.

    When asked if that was his last game in charge, he told BBC Sport. "I don't know. The only thing I can do is prepare my team, progress and develop my team and individual players.

    "This is a project. When I came in, it was a mess. We are better, but we are by far not where we want to be.

    "Football is about winning trophies. I want to play the best football. I want to play dynamic football, attacking football, but in the end, you have to win games and trophies. That is the mentality that we brought in.

    "We only had one opportunity this season – that was the FA Cup. We did it. I'm so very proud of the players and staff, who did an incredible job."

    Ten Hag could well suffer the same fate as compatriot Louis van Gaal, who was dismissed by the club after guiding them to FA Cup glory in 2016.

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    "I think so. The team, me as well – it was not right," he added. "We didn't have the players. It was not always good football, but we have had to make compromises all the time, then you can't play the football you want to play.

    "I have been here two years, and we maybe had three, four times, the full squad [available]. Today, we had some massive players like Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw, Casemiro not on board.

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    Garnacho also paid tribute to his team-mate, who became the first English teenager to score in an FA Cup final since Steve MacKenzie for City against Tottenham in 1981, while dedicating the victory to United's supporters.

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    "[It is an] incredible feeling. Nobody believed in us, but we are together, here with these fans. An incredible moment for us, also for me and Kobbie to score the goals, but all together, we fought like it was the last day of our lives. We're so happy.

    "The fans were incredible. They're always there – home games, away games, now Wembley. We won for the fans."

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