Can Man United win the Champions League with Sanchez?

January 30, 2018

- Grant Whittington

Even in the helter-skelter Premier League, things sometimes happen that catch us all off guard.

 Take Manchester United’s signing of Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal, for example, which came after the Reds’ city rivals had pursued the Chilean for more than 18 months. Jose Mourinho’s side entered the market and got their man, however, completing a potentially seminal signing that could make United an even greater force in the months ahead.

In this article, we’ll appraise the potential impact of Sanchez at Old Trafford, while asking whether or not he can inspire the Reds to Champions League success?

Will Sanchez Emulate Cantona at Old Trafford?

 The Sanchez move bears many similarities to United’s signing of former talisman Eric Cantona in 1992, which triggered an unprecedented period of dominance that saw the Reds win four titles in five seasons. This move sent similar shock waves through the media, for example, while United also snatched the mercurial Frenchman from the grasp of their bitter rivals Leeds.

Fans will be hoping that the similarities do not end here, however, as it was the signing of Cantona that served as the catalyst for United’s title win that year. Before the club unveiled Cantona as their player on 26th November, 1992, United were languishing in 8th in the inaugural Premier League table, having won just six of 16 games and scored a paltry 17 goals. They had also won just one of their previous 8 league games, while failing to score in four of those.

Come May, however, the Reds had secured their first top-flight title for 26 years by a margin of 10 points from second place Aston Villa, after winning 18 and drawing six of their league matches after Cantona’s debut. In short, the Frenchman revitalised a forward line that already included Ryan Giggs, Lee Sharpe and Mark Hughes, while he also provided the guile and invention that could unlock packed defences.

Little else changed during this time, with United making no additional signings or altering their style of play. Instead, the side was galvanised by a mercurial striker that compelled those around him to play better, through his incredible technical skill and immense, charismatic presence.

The Case for Sanchez – How Much of an Impact can he Have at Old Trafford?

While Sanchez may be a different player to Cantona (and fundamentally lack his sense of charisma), his potential influence on those around him should be underestimated. After all, his fusion of world-class ability and dynamism on the field of play will immediately provide the Reds with a unique attacking dimension, and one that can provide match-winning moments out of nothing.

Sanchez’ pace, energy and movement are also reminiscent of former Liverpool forward Luis Suarez, in that it demands similar mobility and work-effort from those around him. So, in addition to encouraging his new teammates to raise their games, Sanchez’ arrival at Old Trafford will also greater a greater sense of urgency and more rapid movement in the Reds’ play. This has been sorely lacking at times this season, with United lacking a forward who can press high up the pitch and increase the tempo of play in the final third.

Perhaps most importantly, a world class player like Sanchez is more likely to be on the same wavelength as the immensely gifted Paul Pogba. There have been times this season where Pogba has struggled with the lack of movement ahead of him, with the Frenchman regularly seen prompting runs and demanding more from him colleagues. Pogba did not have such issues when he played alongside Zlatan Ibrahimovic last season, so there’s genuine hope that he can strike up a similar understanding with Sanchez at home and abroad.

The Last Word – Can United win the UCL with Sanchez?

Ultimately, it’s impossible to determine what type of impact Sanchez will have at Old Trafford, but he certainly has the potential to become a seminal player for Manchester United.

While even Sanchez may be unable to overturn Manchester City’s 12-point lead in the EPL table, however, could he inspire the Reds to glory in the Champions League? The basic answer is yes, as United already boast enough quality and tactical flexibility under Jose Mourinho to beat anyone left in the competition.

In this respect, the addition of Sanchez will provide United’s attack with a world class and potentially game-changing player, and one who can be trusted to make the right decisions.

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