The situation surrounding Sancho was one of the topics posed to Ten Hag during the press briefing on Friday afternoon. The 23-year-old winger, who transferred from Borussia Dortmund for 85 million euros two years ago, hasn't started in a single match this season. Around the top match against Arsenal in early September, there was a verbal clash between the coach and the player. Ten Hag was asked if Sancho can leave in January. A transfer isn't out of the question, as became clear from his response. 'That's up to him. We are preparing for Burnley, and that's our focus. He won't be in the match squad,' was the reply.
A day before the match, it's still uncertain what roles Harry Maguire, Raphaël Varane, Sofyan Amrabat, and Mason Mount can play against Burnley. The four are on their way back from injuries. They will participate in the final training session on Friday, and decisions will be made afterwards.
Staffing issues, unrest around a major signing like Sancho, a streak with just one victory in the last five matches; Ten Hag is far from carefree early in his second season at Old Trafford. Is he surprised by the current problems? 'No, because this is my second year. I know it's not always a forward trajectory. I'm aware there will be setbacks, and I also know they can make you stronger. That's what we are working on in the dressing room,' responded the manager, who undoubtedly knows that the second season after a promotion or fresh start in England is often described as the toughest. The 'second season syndrome' has become a concept.
Journalists wondered to what extent the increasing pressure is felt in the dressing room. From the outside, the pressure has certainly intensified, as the gap to Manchester City has already grown to nine points. 'At United, you have to win every match, so our mentality doesn't change. It's about how we play, and there are no easy games. We know the intensity with which Burnley plays, and I'm impressed by their approach and adventurousness. We have to be at our best,' said Ten Hag about the match against Vincent Kompany's team.