LEICESTER 0-1 MAN UTD: Jadon Sancho’s goal gave Manchester United their third successive Premier League win under Erik ten Hag, as under-fire Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers faces more talk of the sack
Manchester United are on a roll under Erik ten Hag after Jadon Sancho’s ice-cool finish gave them a 1-0 win at Leicester City.
The Red Devils winger slotted home in the 23rd minute to score the only goal of the game, as United built on their impressive turnaround under Ten Hag which was sparked by losing their first two Premier League games in humiliating fashion. Cristiano Ronaldo made a cameo after being benched for the third game running, all matches which Ten Hag’s side have won.
Leicester, meanwhile, continue to languish roc bottom of the table and have now made their worst start to a season since 1994. Under-fire manager Brendan Rodgers is facing increased scrutiny, as regardless of the Foxes’ startling lack of signings, their boss seems to have lost his magic touch.
Here are five talking points from the King Power Stadium.
1. Sancho’s resurgence continues
Beneath the chaos which has engulfed Manchester United since Jadon Sancho walked through the door last June, unknowing of what would occur at Old Trafford for the next 14 months, the 22-year-old winger has been getting to grips with English football. Even as a talented south Londoner, playing in the Premier League was clearly a challenge in his first season with the Red Devils.
This term, though, Sancho looks to have found his feet – just as many predicated. The £73million man is now living up to his price tag and showings signs of his bright future. After opening the scoring with an ice-cool finish at home to Liverpool 10 days ago, the former Borussia Dortmund did exactly the same at the King Power to punish a fragile Leicester City defence.
Profiting from a turnover in possession high up the pitch, as United so often do for their goals, Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford combined to play Sancho through on goal. The 23-capped England international, who’s World Cup chances are on the rise after a period out of the Three Lions’ squad, rounded Danny Ward and slotted home to give the Red Devils a deserved early lead.
2. Leicester’s positional problems
In contrast to how well Jadon Sancho has started the season, it’s been a wretched one for Leicester. The Foxes have been the Premier League’s least active club in the transfer market as far as incomings go, and Brendan Rodgers has lost two pillars of his team in Kasper Schmiechel and Wesley Fofana.
Although new signing Wout Faes was in the building, the now ex-Reims defender was unable to help his new teammates improve on their winless campaign. Sancho’s opener summed up Rodgers’ problems with recruitment, as Wilfred Ndidi was selected to play alongside Jonny Evans at centre-back.
Without Ndidi in midfield, Leicester were far too porous and with him at the back, Evans had his work cut out to make sure his partner was in position. The Foxes were sliced open as United took the lead and it highlighted the fact Faes’ introduction and Ndidi’s subsequent return to midfield can’t come soon enough.
3. Elanga the fall guy again
From Antony Elanga’s perspective, starting three of Erik ten Hag’s first five Premier League matches is good going considering he was still learning his trade in the academy this time last year. The Red Devils’ brightest outfielder for large part of Ralf Rangnick’s ill-fated reign, it was hoped that this season would see the hard-working wide man truly come of age.
Always willing to put a shift in and press, it’s understandable why Ten Hag likes him. However, he’s been hauled off in all three of his starts and looks to be the perennial fall guy. Subbed for Casemiro this time out as the United manager opted to change formation in reaction to Leicester’s positive start to the second half, Elanga is almost certain to be usurped by the time Antony settles in.
4. Ronaldo’s role found?
From the moment Erik ten Hag was confirmed as the Red Devils’ choice to step into the Old Trafford dugout, a debate ensued over Cristiano Ronaldo’s future. Where would he play? How would he play? Would he even play for United? Well, those questions remain fully answered, but the 37-year-old superstar showed a glimpse of what he can offer late in the game.
Introduced when Leicester were still on top, Ronaldo single-handedly forced the Foxes back and showed that his presence up front can be a useful tool for Ten Hag. While he didn’t get a goal, the five-time Ballon d’Or winner gave United a focal point and was involved into a moves which could’ve resulted in his side making it a 2-0. Ronaldo will always judge himself on goals but tonight’s performance should be just as encouraging.
He’s no Claudio Ranieri to Leicester fans, but Brendan Rodgers is firmly among to the Foxes’ greatest-ever managers. With an FA Cup winners’ medal and back-to-back fifth-places finishes in the top flight on his CV, Rodgers has undoubtedly brought the good times back to the King Power after a miserable period under Claude Puel.
Sadly, all good things must come to an end, and it seems close for the Northern Irish coach after another loss. Thursday’s defeat – albeit a valiant one – makes it four from five games in the Premier League this season – and the sole draw came after squandering a two-goal lead at home to Brentford.
With Sunday’s trip to Brighton on the horizon before clashes with Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur prior the international break, reaching October would be a landmark for Rodgers.