Man United's right wing position is at an all-time low

CHRIS WHEELER: Man United’s right wing position is at an all-time low with Mason Greenwood out, Jadon Sancho cast aside and Antony banished… £200m has been spent but Erik ten Hag has no clear option

  • Manchester United have a rich history of exciting wingers, from Best to Ronaldo
  • But with issues over Antony, Sancho and Greenwood, they’re at a real low point
  • United have splashed out £200million, but Erik ten Hag now has a headache 

We used to call right wing the problem position at Manchester United. 

Back in 2020, when Mason Greenwood was just emerging as a seemingly unstoppable force and the club were being frustrated in their attempts to sign Jadon Sancho, it was one area where United were lacking.

That felt wrong for a club with such a rich history of wide players. Best, Ronaldo, Giggs, Beckham, Kanchelskis, Sharpe, the list goes on.

Then United began to stock up on right wingers. In fact, for a while it felt like the only players coming into Old Trafford were right wingers.

Amad Diallo for a fee of £19million that could one day rise to £38m. Facundo Pellistri for £9m. Then United finally got their man and signed Sancho for £73m. 

Manchester United’s £85million winger Antony has been placed on leave as he contests abuse allegations made by three women 

Jadon Sancho took issue with Erik ten Hag’s explanation as to why he was dropped for the match against Arsenal last weekend

It has left United manager Erik ten Hag short of options on the right side of his forward line

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When Erik ten Hag took over as manager last summer, he went back to his old club Ajax and paid £85m for Antony. 

The thick end of £200m to make sure right wing would no longer be a problem position.

However, as Ten Hag returns to his desk at Carrington on Monday after a short break, it remains as problematic as ever after another tumultuous week at Old Trafford.

No sooner had United resolved the Mason Greenwood saga that hung over the club for 19 months by offloading him to Getafe than they were dragged into another domestic abuse controversy involving Antony. 

The Brazilian has been placed on paid leave as he fights allegations of assault made by an ex-girlfriend, which he strongly denies.

Sancho would be the natural replacement but he has fallen out with Ten Hag after publicly challenging his manager’s claim that he was left out of the last game against Arsenal because he had not trained well. 

If he hadn’t already upset Ten Hag enough, Sancho also claimed that he is being used as a scapegoat.

The two men will hold talks at the training ground on Monday just days after United considered cutting Sancho loose by sending him off into the desert – literally – on loan to Al-Ettifaq. 

Mason Greenwood completed a move to Getafe on loan from United on deadline day

Greenwood left United by mutual agreement after an internal investigation was concluded

Had the Saudi Pro League club agreed to an obligation to buy Sancho for £50m next summer, he would no longer be a United player.

So where does all this leave Ten Hag in terms of Saturday’s game at home to Brighton? After losing two of his first four matches, the Dutchman can ill afford another defeat and will not need reminding that his first game as United boss ended with a shock defeat to the Seagulls who are flying again this season.

With Antony out of the picture until further notice and Sancho unlikely to be called in from the cold anytime soon, Ten Hag must decide on the best option available.

Amad is currently recovering from surgery on the knee injury he suffered against Arsenal in a pre-season friendly in New Jersey in July.

Pellistri continues to show great promise but the young Uruguayan has only made two appearances off the bench this season and might not be ready for a start just yet. 

The 21-year-old won’t be back in Manchester until Wednesday at the earliest after playing in his country’s World Cup qualifiers against Chile and Ecuador.

Amad Diallo is currently sidelined after undergoing surgery on a knee injury he picked up on United’s pre-season tour of the United States

Facundo Pellistri has limited first-team experience, coming off the bench twice this season

The most likely outcome is that Alejandro Garnacho comes into the line-up and plays in his preferred position on the left with Marcus Rashford switching to the right.

Garnacho will certainly feel that he has a point to prove after being substituted in United’s first two games against Wolves and Tottenham and then dropped to the bench for the next two against Nottingham Forest and Arsenal.

Ten Hag has also played captain Bruno Fernandes wide on the right, particularly in big games where United need to be tighter defensively, with Christian Eriksen occupying the No 10 role. New signing Mason Mount would also come into that equation if fit.

Rasmus Hojlund made his United debut off the bench in the defeat at Arsenal eight days ago, and it remains to be seen if the Denmark striker is ready for his first start against Brighton. 

If so, Antony Martial could be used on the wing, which many people believe is his best position anyway.

The dearth of right-sided options means Marcus Rashford could be switched over from the left

Ten Hag is not short of options, as you would expect from a manager who has spent £400m on players since he was appointed last year.

But the drama surrounding Antony and Sancho over the course of the last week has handed the United manager a problem he could never have foreseen.


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