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Dutch rain over Dubai sun? Why Man Utd fans should celebrate Jadon Sancho after training choice

COMMENT: Wait a minute. Hang on. No social media? No glam Dubai trip? Just what is Jadon Sancho up to? This isn't the behaviour of a modern Manchester United player...

Well, at least his actions this past fortnight isn't the behaviour of a player pre- Erik ten Hag. And you hope what Sancho has shown since the World Cup break-up is appreciated by not only his manager, but also those exes close to him who get paid to talk about the game.

There's been no jaunt to Dubai for Sancho. No quick trip to the 'States or the Seychelles. Indeed, he hasn't even put his feet up. Instead, the midfielder has spent time this past fortnight in a suburb in the south of Holland. Training on the pitches of semi pro OJC Rosmalen.

What's more, there's little we know about it. The locals were aware of Sancho's presence. There was chatter about him staying at a hotel in Doetinchem. About spotting him at a local running track in the mornings. And then on the training pitch at OJC in the afternoon, where he was put through drills by a coach - and had a goalkeeper from Reykjavik to work with.

It's a million miles from the typical training trek of a globetrotting Paul Pogba. Asia. US. The Middle East. He was everywhere. Everywhere but Carrington. And he let us all know it.

In contrast, in Rosmalen, it's been dark. It's been wet. And that's basically all we know.

Thanks to Sancho's decision to completely wipe his Instagram account, we've only had snippets of what's been going on thanks to locals aware of the England international's visit. He hasn't shut the account down, but there's now nothing there. And it's been like that since this World Cup recess began. There's not even anything from personal sponsors.

Piet van der Plas, the OJC chairman, has been tightlipped - even suggesting the first he knew of Sancho using the club's facilities was from a local's social media post.

"We have made the field available to an organisation," Van der Plas shrugged. "No idea what the purpose of that was. We do that often. Jadon Sancho? It could be. I have no idea about that. We are not aware of who was there."

Quiet. Modest. It's not what you associate a United player with. Certainly not one with Sancho's reputation. But on Ten Hag's recommendation. With a coach and a training partner hired. Sancho has taken this humble, back-to-basics approach.

Career trouble? Crisis? Or could it be that Sancho is putting away all the kid's toys? All the gaud and glamour. And instead now focusing on his football and his career?

This should be applauded. The likes of Rio Ferdinand and Gary Neville should be highlighting Sancho's actions. Contrast it to Pogba. To Jesse Lingard. Bring this to the attention of United fans. Sancho is trying. He's sacrificing. It might have been only a short stint in a rainy, cold Holland. But couple it with the Insta wipe and for the United support, this should speak volumes about the character and commitment of their No10.

And this goes beyond the player. This is the new culture inside United. Past managers would leave such camps to the player to organise. Or better yet, their agents. Their sponsors. As mentioned, you could run down a list of current and former United players and recall similar stints away from the club. In glamourous locations. With crystal blue skies. And all accompanied with snaps of themselves with the silly 'muscle' emojis, assuring their millions of followers of "working hard" and "getting ready".

None of this vanity you could level at Sancho. This is more the approach of Roy Keane and Bryan Robson - than Pogba and Lingard. Of course, the account could relaunch tomorrow with a haircut and a fashion shoot. But as we sit here today, Sancho is behaving like a pro who could mix comfortably in any dressing room of the Sir Alex Ferguson era.

And it's another indication of the shift we've seen from the players since the arrival of Ten Hag and his staff. Pogba's gone. Lingard too. And as much as this column regrets it, it's clear the 2022 version of Cristiano Ronaldo also couldn't live within this new value system.

Sancho, however, is showing a willingness to do that. And you really do hope it is of benefit. That Sancho is not only rewarded for this commitment, but it sets the tone for his teammates and this Ten Hag era.

Choosing the wet of Rosmalen over the sun of Dubai. A ball and cones over a multi-million dollar gym... oh, and also putting that bloody phone away. Sancho deserves to be applauded. He deserves any and all positive results to come from this.

For too long, this wasn't the behaviour of a modern Manchester United player. At least a player pre- Erik ten Hag.



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Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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