The smile from Erik ten Hag said it all when Jadon Sancho scored to equalise for Manchester United during their 2-2 draw with Leeds United at Old Trafford.
I can’t tell you how much I’ve missed this feeling! Team showed great character to stay in the game, we go again on the weekend. 💪🏼 pic.twitter.com/UOFQQWxhLm
— Jadon Sancho (@Sanchooo10) February 8, 2023
With United desperately needing some impetus and composure to break down Leeds, ten Hag turned to Sancho in the 59th minute as the England international came on for Wout Weghorst, and his introduction was a significant moment because this was the first Premier League game that he featured in for United since the 1-1 draw against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge back in October.
Sancho scored 12 minutes after coming off the bench and he took his goal nicely as he struck a shot that was not the most powerful but it deceived Illan Meslier in the Leeds goal.
This was special.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) February 8, 2023
Amidst the joy on his face after scoring and the celebrations of his team-mates, the cameras panned to the United manager and it was clear to see how much that goal meant to the Dutchman because he was smiling like a proud father, which can be seen below, as he worked hard together with the coaching staff to get Sancho into a good place both mentally and physically as they developed an individual training programme that would allow him to perform at his best and he was also recommended to work with coaches that ten Hag has worked with before out in the Netherlands during the World Cup.
That Erik ten Hag's proud smile after Sancho scored ❤️pic.twitter.com/VO47JGDKWB
— UF (@UtdFaithfuls) February 9, 2023
The smile from ten Hag said it all because he will have known how hard the Englishman has had to work to get himself in a position, whereby he can cope with the rigours of the Premier League, and even though, it is only one game, the signs are healthy because when he came on against Nottingham Forest in the Carabao Cup last week, he played a key part in United scoring their second goal of the game in the 2-0 win, as it was his line-breaking pass that allowed Bruno Fernandes the opportunity to cross.
When the United number 25 came on just before the hour mark, he was lively as he had some nice combinations with Luke Shaw down the left flank and his dynamism caused several problems for the Leeds defence.
Not only did he have good interchange with Shaw, but he was also calm when United had the ball, which was encouraging as from watching the game, you could argue that at times, ten Hag’s side were not only sloppy in possession but when they got into the final third, they were not composed either.
However, this changed when Sancho came on as every time he got on the ball there was a sense of a calm because he took his time to weigh up his options, which allowed United to get into promising situations.
Sancho will be hoping that he has done enough to start in the second instalment of Man United against Leeds United, which takes place at Elland Road on Sunday afternoon at 2pm UK time.