Both wingers were named in Erik ten Hag’s starting XI for Thursday night’s trip to Cyprus, where the visitors were expected to bounce back from their 6-3 derby humiliation by Manchester City at the weekend with a comfortable win over minnows Omonia – a team that finished seventh in the Cypriot top-flight under Neil Lennon last season who had won only one of their previous 27 European ties.
However, United were notably below-par again in Nicosia, trailing 1-0 at half-time to a Karim Ansarifard goal against the run of play despite dominating the first half and generating plenty of attacking opportunities.
Sancho – along with Tyrell Malacia – was duly hooked by Ten Hag at half-time at GSP Stadium and replaced by Marcus Rashford, whose brace – coupled with another fine goal from fellow impact substitute Anthony Martial – was just about enough to avert a massive upset and secure a hard-fought 3-2 victory to stay second behind Real Sociedad in Group E despite Nikolas Panayiotou’s late effort that set up a grandstand finish.
United legend Paul Scholes was on punditry duty for BT Sport on Thursday and after another unconvincing United performance voiced his concerns over Sancho’s lack of running in behind opposition defences, while he even labelled £86million summer signing Antony as a potential ‘one-trick pony’.
“He was right about the wingers being static,” Scholes said of Ten Hag’s post-match assessment. “Sancho never really runs in behind. He needs a fast left-back really or a centre forward to link up with and he hasn’t really got that at the moment.
“Antony on the other side as well, he doesn’t run in behind. He seems to be a bit of a one-trick pony.
“He’s always cutting inside and either passing back to the full-back or having a shot. You’re thinking he needs to develop a little bit. It’s still early days for him, we know that.”