Jose Mourinho says Manchester United won’t see the best of Alexis Sanchez until next season, but we expect better than this.
This was a night when Sanchez could have risen above the mediocrity of his first two months at Old Trafford. A night for the highest-paid player in the Premier League to put in a big performance on the big stage.
Instead, he largely disappeared, lost amid Mourinho’s muddled plan and the inadequacies of his team-mates.
Alexis Sanchez looks dejected after Manchester United’s defeat by Sevilla on Tuesday night
Sanchez has his hands on his hips as United crash out of the Champions League at last 16 stage
How United got it so badly wrong will take some figuring out, but no-one was more disappointing on the night than Sanchez.
When United gazumped Manchester City to sign him from Arsenal in January, it was in the hope that he could take them to another level.
That may well happen in time, and there is no doubt that he remains a supremely talented footballer. But, right now, he looks remarkably ordinary.
A return of one goal from 10 games – a follow-up from a penalty he had saved against Huddersfield – is well below expectation.
Sanchez has failed to live up to the billing at Old Trafford since joining from Arsenal
Jose Mourinho looks despondent as he trudges down the touchline after United’s defeat
Nor is Sanchez adding a great deal in terms of assists. His one key contribution on Tuesday night was a clever one-two with Marouane Fellaini in the 38th minute which resulted in the Belgian having a shot saved at the near post.
Otherwise, he was an impotent figure in the game. In those last desperate minutes when United threw all they had at Sevilla – a time when star players are relied upon to produce a moment of magic – he went missing again.
The Chilean was not alone in under-achieving, of course. Paul Pogba came on for Fellaini and misplaced a string of passes. Romelu Lukaku missed a glaring opportunity before scoring to give United a glimmer of hope. How costly was that?
Even David De Gea, United’s saviour in Spain three weeks ago, as he has been on so many occasions in recent seasons, will feel that he could have done more to keep out Wissam Ben Yedder’s second goal that effectively nudged this tie out of United’s reach.
Sanchez has delivered only one goal in 10 appearances since his January arrival at Old Trafford
All over the pitch, Mourinho had big names who did not deliver when it mattered most. In pushing for the two goals needed to salvage their Champions League hopes, the truth is that United were lucky not to concede twice as many at the other end.
Mourinho was first down the tunnel at the final whistle closely followed by Pogba and the rest of his crestfallen stars.
A Champions League winner against the odds on two occasions with Porto and Inter Milan, he will have fancied his chances in this competition more than he cared to admit beforehand. And why not with the squad at his disposal?
Saturday’s FA Cup quarter-final against Brighton here has now taken on huge proportions. It has become a season-defining game in the hunt for a trophy.
Waiting for things to get better next season is simply not good enough for a club like United – or a player like Alexis Sanchez.
No-one was more disappointing on the night than Sanchez as United tumbled out