The fall from grace has been tough on Alexis Sanchez. A forward who scored goals for fun during his time in Arsenal has been nothing but downright terrible for Manchester United. He has played 9 months with United now and he has nothing to show for it. Sanchez has constantly escaped the radar of fans and press while his teammates like Pogba, Martial, Lukaku, etc. have been criticized and abused after nearly every match. It’s not going to be long for Mourinho to lose his cool and turn his back on Sanchez.
The biggest issue with Sanchez lies in the fact that along with his goal scoring abilities he has become completely clueless without the ball at his feet. During his time with Barcelona, Sanchez was involved in link up plays with Messi, Pedro, and other players. Even with Arsenal he was lauded for his connection with midfielder Ozil and in general for contribution to the flow of the game. In the game against Wolves, Sanchez not only had one shot on target but also had the worst passing accuracy for an outfield player. Further, he lost the ball 16 times which was only below Pogba and Shaw, both of whom stay with the ball on their feet for a much longer duration than Sanchez. This makes him a sure shot liability to any team. Players like Giroud who also average fewer shots on target still salvage some points due to their off the ball moments and their general gameplay during a match. While Giroud was under scanner during the World Cup for his goal scoring abilities having managed zero shots on target, no one questioned his importance in the team. He constantly made the right passes, attracted defenders in the final third and made space for better finishers like Griezmann and Mbappe to move forward and slot one in. Benzema played a similar season to accommodate goal scorers like Ronaldo and Bale. Sanchez has been known to possess huge ego and this has become a hindrance for him especially during his current spell of terrible form. He needs to either find his shooting boots or at least help forwards to do their job.
Sanchez was always applauded for his athleticism and his ability to run from defence to offence during the entirety of the match. Wenger always used to be in awe of his stamina and even coaches in Chile have always lauded him for that. Yet, currently, Sanchez has been the slowest he could be. He shows no enthusiasm on the pitch and sometimes it looks like he has given up. In the last game, Mourinho took him out after 60 odd minutes to make way for Mata. Usually, a forward would not have been replaced for a midfielder especially during a time when United was desperate for goals. Sanchez was brought by United due to his experience playing Premier League and they paid a huge sum for his services. United’s offence before Sanchez has been accused of inexperienced and young. Even with Lukaku on the field, United forwards never knew what to do against polished defences of title competitors. Sanchez was brought in by United to dismantle such defences like he had done countless times with Barcelona and Arsenal. He has better tools in United with Pogba, Mata, and Lukaku behind him than he ever had at Arsenal, yet he has not been able to convert countless chances these players have handed him with and this is a problem for any team contending to win titles.
In a club like United, there are no second chances and Sanchez needs to prove his worth before he is shipped off for another club come January.
By Srinivas Venkat