What’s so special about the number 7 (#7), that most people are fascinated by it. There’s a certain romance that envelopes the #7 jersey worn by a player in any sport, in any team.
Let’s look around! For starters, number 7 is much more prevalent in nature than most of us realize: There are 7 oceans, 7 continents, 7 vertebrae in the neck, 7 layers of skin (2 outer and 5 inner), ocean waves roll in sevens, the rainbow has 7 colors, sound has 7 notes, there are 7 directions, there are 7 holes in your head (go ahead and count them), the earth was created in 7 days (including a day of rest), a cube has 7 dimensions (including the inside), the male body has 7 parts, the number 7 is used 735 times in the Bible.
7, is therefore considered to be the number of completeness and perfection (both physical and spiritual). It derives much of its meaning from being tied directly to God’s creation of all things.
However, yesterday as of 19.29 hours on August 15, 2020, a very famous bearer of the #7 jersey put his feet up. If you have ever watched cricket in the last decade or so, I am sure you would have heard the name – MS Dhoni (MSD), from fans across the world. Such was his aura, that most fans & his colleagues were smitten by him. A very humble man who trusted his abilities, skills & backed young players. He was the best wicket-keeper batsman to have played for India & won so many accolades that you can’t count it on your fingers.
MSD wore the #7 jersey because he was born on 7th of the 7th calendar month. He believed it was a lucky charm & he wore it with pride.
MSD while was a wicket-keeper, he was first a goalkeeper & played football for his school, which was his first love, as he claims. He was then converted to a wicket-keeper by his school coach who didn’t have a good wicket-keeper at the time.
Not many know, MSD also supported Manchester United & follows the club wholeheartedly, watching most of the matches. As a fan, I’m sure he would also be wondering like most fans across the globe, when do we see our new #7 – Jadon Sancho sign for the club.
The saga (I’m calling it a saga since the stories have been coming in for quite sometime now) of Sancho continues to dominate the headline, tracking him at Borussia Dortmund (BVB) training sessions & matches. While most have covered & seen his skills at BVB or on numerous YouTube videos, I would like to touch upon 5 things this #7 can bring to Manchester United.
X-Factor – No, its not the X-Factor which is a musical show. No! Sancho is bound to have such a massive impact that the opposition can’t guard or plan against. With his skills, pace & trickery he can get out of compact situations very easily. Sancho hasn’t even reached his peak, hence its no surprise the opposition needs to keep in mind when he starts against any team.
Versatile – Sancho is incredibly versatile on the pitch. He can play on both the flanks, through the middle & give him time & he can play as a false 9 or as a Striker. The below heat map will portray that he’s largely been a winger, since BVB already have quality #10 & #9 to finish off the chances that he creates.
A Creator– Sancho’s 16 assists have come as a result of him creating an average of 2.7 chances per 90 minutes in the Bundesliga in 2019-20.
That places him way ahead of United’s current options. Rashford creates 1.1 chances per 90 with Martial & Greenwood on 1.0.
The 20-year-old also has a pass success rate of 85.1%, an improvement on Rashford (77.3%) and Martial (80.6%). Greenwood comes out on top in this respect, with a pass success rate of 86.3%.
Noted for his ability to beat opposition players, Sancho completes 3.0 successful dribbles per 90 minutes at a success rate of 55.5%.
Rashford leads the way for United with 2.0 per 90 at a success rate of 48.7%. This is then followed by Martial (1.7 at 51.5%) & Greenwood (1.4 at 63.6%).
Ability to break down Defenses – Sancho accelerates quickly, he’s exquisite in tight spaces, and his awkward, unpredictable means of carrying the ball at his feet causes problems for opposing defenders.
Ultimately, considering United’s apparent issue when required to break down stubborn defences, Sancho’s creative spark would be highly valuable. He would join as a young, homegrown attacker with world-class potential and proven quality, and his addition would allow the team to benefit immediately while also being insured long-term.
A look at his stats for BVB does tells you the story why Man United has been chasing Sancho. He will primarily bring a lot of poise, fear in the opponents mind & add on to the pace which Man United currently have.
Defensively Sound – Most attackers don’t really contribute defensively however with Sancho, the story is different. His average of 0.5 tackles per 90 minutes betters only Rashford (0.4).
Greenwood (1.2) does average higher than Sancho while Martial also recorded 0.5 tackles per 90.
But Sancho does come out on top for interceptions per 90 minutes. His total (0.5) betters Greenwood (0.4),Rashford (0.3) & Martial (0.2).
Post the restart, quality in depth has also been a major issue, since Ole has largely played the same 11. With Sancho coming into the 11, Greenwood may drop to the bench & will be rotated with Sancho. Dan James may play on the left & rotate with Rashford, while Ighalo with Martial. Its definitely a scary situation for the opponents, if Sancho does come to United & add on to the current pace & guile.
I hope there’s a solution Man United & BVB can find to the Sancho Saga & we get him on board this summer.
Jadon Sancho is definitely the Hero we need & the Hero we deserve at the moment.