Former Chelsea player John Obi Mikel has criticized Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag for what he sees as Ten Hag ‘throwing Jadon Sancho under the bus’ amid the ongoing feud between the young English star and the Dutchman.
Recent reports have suggested that Manchester United is considering offloading Sancho in January unless he offers an apology to Ten Hag for his public statements following his exclusion from the matchday squad against Arsenal. This move came after the 23-year-old had been banned from using first-team facilities at Carrington for claiming he was being made a scapegoat in an online response.
Former Premier League midfielder Mikel, aged 36, expressed that the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson would have handled such a situation differently. He said, ‘Everybody is going on about Sancho not apologizing; I have a different view on that. My perspective is that the manager shouldn’t have publicly said what he did.’
He continued, ‘I wouldn’t have gone public. If you listen to former United players, they’ve all said one thing: When things like this occurred under [Sir Alex] Ferguson, it was addressed behind closed doors, and he managed it.’
Mikel emphasized the need for private handling, saying, ‘It doesn’t matter how he managed it, but it was handled privately. If the manager’s decision was for the player not to be involved anymore, that’s it. You cannot come out publicly and criticize a player and say he wasn’t training well.’
The former Chelsea player also cited the example of John Terry and added, ‘What do you expect the player to do? You came out publicly, and I responded publicly. Why would you expect me to apologize? I believe it should have been handled privately. Back in the day, John Terry got involved in cases like this, went to the manager’s office for a chat, and brought the player because this was a player we needed. Sancho is a player you indeed need.’
Former Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has also raised questions about whether Ten Hag has fully adapted to life at the club since joining from Ajax a year ago, specifically in regard to his handling of ‘big stars.’
He commented, ‘Coming from Ajax to United, as he did, is a significant change. I have experience with both clubs. They have a different form of discipline. Ajax is a talented club, and they lack big stars. This coach’s experience is with young talents. He comes to United, and it’s a different mindset.’
Ibrahimovic mentioned the need for a clear plan and project, stating, ‘You need a plan; you need a project to follow. It feels like you follow a project plan, and then it goes off track because of the results. You either believe in it or you don’t. With the coach’s situation, I think he’s experiencing two different situations now.’
The former Manchester United striker also alluded to the issues involving Sancho and Cristiano Ronaldo, saying, ‘Then, of course, there is what happened with Sancho and Cristiano; I don’t know. Even when things are going well, there are still errors and problems, but they aren’t as noticeable because we’re winning.’