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Only two Man Utd stars can look themselves in the mirror this season – and Ten Hag wanted to sell both of them

JADON SANCHO is far from the first player to butt heads with a Manchester United manager.

Sir Alex Ferguson had no greater midfield general than Roy Keane — yet the Irishman freely admits he was never close to his gaffer. It was a purely business relationship.

Jadon Sancho is set to rejoin Borussia Dortmund after being exiled from Man Utd's first-team

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Jadon Sancho is set to rejoin Borussia Dortmund after being exiled from Man Utd’s first-teamCredit: Getty

No one will ever dispute Wayne Rooney is an Old Trafford legend.

But similarly, United’s 253-goal all-time top scorer was anything but bosom buddies with Fergie.

Yet it never affected their desire or ability on the pitch or training ground.

If only Sancho, set to rejoin Borussia Dortmund on loan, had followed their example.

Indeed, when the club ran a 2018 poll for fans to vote for United’s greatest  Premier League XI, both men were in it.

Ahead of the likes of David Beckham, Andy Cole, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Peter Schmeichel and Denis Irwin.

Fast forward, then, to the current line-up. The United is stumbling through a chaotic and catastrophic season under Erik ten Hag.

One in which Sancho has not featured beyond the opening three games.

Wayne Rooney and Sir Alex Ferguson were not the best of pals

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Wayne Rooney and Sir Alex Ferguson were not the best of palsCredit: Times Newspapers Ltd

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This after his omission from the squad at Arsenal sparked a spat which rapidly became a full-blown feud.

When United went to the Emirates on September 3, Scott McTominay had played three minutes in two cameos off the bench. Harry Maguire had not got off it.

Ten Hag would have sold both given the right bid. Maguire’s captain’s armband was handed to Bruno Fernandes early in pre-season.

The manager did not publicly call out either, nor did he need to. His actions said it all. In his idea of a brave new world, neither would feature.

Yet for all their pride was wounded, there was never a chance of McTominay or Maguire telling the world about it on social media. Not a “poor me” post in sight.

Just the sound of sleeves being rolled up, and a silent determination to prove the Dutchman wrong. They would wait for a chance — and take it.

How ironic that in United’s worst-ever Prem season, Maguire and McTominay have been the only players able to look themselves in the mirror.

While the manager’s future is hardly secure, if those two had not performed as they have, it is not beyond the realms to suggest he could be seeking a new job by now.

Harry Maguire who was up for sale in the summer has been key under Erik ten Hag this season

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Harry Maguire who was up for sale in the summer has been key under Erik ten Hag this seasonCredit: AP
Scott McTominay was also heading out the exit door but has turned things about this term

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Scott McTominay was also heading out the exit door but has turned things about this termCredit: PA

Rather like Sancho is. For rather than taking the “stuff you” approach of his two team-mates, he opted for the scapegoat suggestion.

Opted for the social media route of mullering his manager, rather than knocking on his door, sorting it out with a discussion, a row or a debate, and then knuckling down.

It turned a crack into a crevice. A barney into a total breakdown. A speed bump into a roadblock . . . certainly as far as his United career is concerned.

The forgotten irony being, of course, that when Sancho’s form slumped last year, Ten Hag willingly gave him three months off to rehabilitate from physical and mental health issues.

But Sancho is no stranger to fallouts. He left Manchester City for Bundesliga side Dortmund in 2017,  to hunt for first-team football, amid claims he refused to train as he tried to engineer a move.

Tellingly, Etihad boss Pep Guardiola subsequently insisted he left because “he didn’t want the challenge”.

And for all Sancho was a hit in  Germany, it was not all plain sailing. He was carpeted for his time-keeping — something which was also an issue for Gareth Southgate with England.

Those international days seem like a lifetime ago. And 2½ seasons after his £73million move to United, you can count his starring roles on one hand.

It has been a masterclass of mishaps. While McTominay and Maguire took the gauntlet thrown down by Ten Hag and slapped him in the face, Sancho did not even try it on for size.

This is why he is now hoping for a deal which sees him return to Dortmund for the rest of the season.

Maybe even to lay down the roots for a permanent move.

Had you told  Sancho six months ago he would be in Germany this summer, he would have jumped for joy. It would have meant a place in England’s squad for the Euros.

In reality, the only action he will see will be from a seat in the stands. And there is only one man to blame.

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