Jadon Sancho certainly cannot be accused of lacking confidence. The England starlet was straight onto Twitter to complain to EA Sports about what he perceived to be a low passing rating of 77 on the forthcoming FIFA 20 video game.
Seeing that Sancho’s polite complaint had amassed over 60,000 likes, EA replied to argue that a dribble ratings of 90 was, you know, actually pretty decent.
‘I think both could be 90,’ Sancho tweeted back at them. ‘A bit harsh’.
Jadon Sancho has a great chance to impress England manager Gareth Southgate on Tuesday when he is expected to start in their Euro 2020 qualifier against Kosovo in Southampton
The Borussia Dortmund player came off the bench in Saturday’s 4-0 victory over Bulgaria
Jadon Sancho clearly did not agree with his passing rating on the new installment of FIFA
Fortunately, the 19-year-old Borussia Dortmund ace backs up such chutzpah with breathtaking performances for his club on a scarily regular basis. Otherwise, he’d come in for torrents of criticism in the social media echo chamber.
Sancho has taken every new challenge faced in his nascent career in his dizzyingly quick strides and now he’ll feel he’s ready for the next one.
He will be unleashed by Gareth Southgate when England play Kosovo in their latest Euro 2020 qualifier in Southampton on Tuesday night, replacing Marcus Rashford in a front three also containing Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling.
And though this is Sancho’s eighth England cap, there is the feeling a long-term opportunity is there to be seized.
It’s a chance to nail down a place in the England team for the foreseeable future and in a season that culminates with a European Championship final at Wembley, that is pretty good timing.
Sancho is competing with Marcus Rashford for a place in England’s forward three
Sancho celebrates with Rashford after the Man United man scored against Holland in June
Rashford spoke ahead of England’s 4-0 win over Bulgaria on Saturday about matching Kane goal-for-goal in shooting drills in training. ‘If he scores seven, you want to score eight,’ he said.
But given the chance to deliver on the Wembley pitch against modest opposition at the weekend, Rashford couldn’t find the net. Kane, by contrast, scored a hat-trick.
Late in that match, Rashford was played clear of the Bulgaria defence by Ross Barkley but fired straight at goalkeeper Plamen Iliev rather than stroking the ball into the bottom corner.
And it was perhaps at that moment Southgate decided that Sancho deserved an opportunity to start against Kosovo.
Though Southgate eulogised about his attacking trio of Rashford, Kane and Sterling after Saturday’s game, it’s clear only the latter two are guaranteed starters.
There hasn’t been a great deal between Rashford and Sancho this season. Rashford has two goals for United, Sancho three for Dortmund. Sancho does have more assists – four to Rashford’s one.
Perhaps it’s a perception of how their respective sides are doing. Rashford’s two goals came in the opening 4-0 rout of Chelsea (one was a penalty) but that has proved a false dawn for an ailing United side.
Sancho celebrates after scoring in Dortmund’s 2-0 win over Bayern Munich in the Super Cup
The 19-year-old has scored three times and contributed four assists for his club this season
Against opponents favouring a less open style, such as Crystal Palace and Southampton, Rashford’s runs have often ended up stuck down cul-de-sacs. In the Palace defeat, his penalty struck the post.
While United are seen as sub-par, quite a few assume Dortmund are flying.
That’s not necessarily true – while they beat reigning Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich in the Super Cup, with Sancho scoring a scorching goal, they have also suffered a miserable defeat to newly-promoted Union Berlin.
Both players finished last season with 13 goals apiece, though Sancho claimed 10 more assists (19 to 9) and certainly appeared to have the better season.
Yet when Southgate started him in the semi-finals of the UEFA Nations League against Holland in June, Sancho was quiet and taken off after an hour for Jesse Lingard.
Sancho had a forgettable evening as England lost to Holland in their Nations League semi-final
Dortmund had a shocked when they lost 3-1 to newly-promoted Union Berlin last time out
England’s Euro 2020 qualifying scores
March 22 Czech Republic (H) 5-0
March 25 Montenegro (A) 5-1
September 7 Bulgaria (H) 4-0
September 10 Kosovo (H)
October 11 Czech Republic (A)
October 14 Bulgaria (A)
November 14 Montenegro (H)
November 17 Kosovo (A)
Nonetheless, Southgate is right to give him another competitive game to demonstrate what he can do and push for a more permanent place.
When Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi returns from injury, he should be given an opportunity as well, further increasing the competition for that one remaining attacking berth ahead of Euro 2020.
‘We’re very well served in those areas,’ said Southgate contentedly on Monday, though really choosing which of the three to play in England’s opening Euro 2020 game will be a real headache for him.
While Sancho was irked about his rating in the main FIFA simulation, he’ll certainly be excellent in the new VOLTA mode – and updating of the old FIFA Street games which puts a greater accent on skill and trickery.
Growing up in Camberwell, south London, his skills were honed by playing cage football.
Rashford started the season with two goals for United against Chelsea – but hasn’t scored since
Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi will get another England chance when he returns from injury
As he said this week: ‘I was expressing myself. No one cared if you lost the ball because it was like free-styling sessions. Everyone just doing skills against each other – trying to embarrass people, that kind of thing.’
Though that showboating was coached out of him in Watford’s academy during his teenage years, we still see the odd glimpse in the way Sancho beats an opponent with a flick or backheel.
But the main thing England fans will appreciate is in the way, like Rashford, he brings blistering pace and isn’t afraid to take on defenders before either cutting inside to shoot or crossing low into the six-yard box.
Sancho is well on course for a place in the England squad at Euro 2020 and, even if he drops back out of the team against Czech Republic and Bulgaria away from home next month, he will get further opportunities.
Sancho can win a Euro 2020 starting place if he continues to impress for club and country
It’s a case of continuing precisely what he’s doing already for Dortmund and matching his impressive goal and assist returns from last season.
He also needs to ensure he doesn’t become distracted by the inevitable pursuit of him by Premier League clubs next summer.
Manchester United are the front-runners to sign Sancho and will reignite their interest next summer with Dortmund open to a sale at enormous profit on the £8million they paid to sign him from Manchester City in 2017.
If that move happens, the battle between Rashford and Sancho is only just getting started.