Why Luke Shaw Should Start For Man Utd Against Brighton
Luke Shaw is expected to keep his place after the left back put in a fine performance during Man United’s opening day win against Leicester.
Manchester United’s win against Leicester on Friday night was a landmark for Luke Shaw. His 83rd minute goal against the Foxes, which also turned out to be the decisive one, was the first senior goal of his career.
You’d think an attacking full back like Shaw would have netted a few times over the years, but in 134 appearances in all competitions for United and Southampton, he’s scored only one goal.
With Leicester threatening to equalise after Pogba’s early opener, United desperately needed an insurance goal. Mata’s lofted ball to Shaw was initially fumbled by the 23 year old, but he recovered well to slot the ball past a hapless Kasper Schmeichel.
Shaw put in a fairly composed performance at left back against the Foxes. He had a passing accuracy of 85.1%, made 3 tackles, and 1 interception. Apart from a nervous moment when Jamie Vardy dispossessed him, he rarely put a foot wrong throughout the 90 minutes.
For a man whose career has derailed after becoming the most expensive teenager of all time, it was a positive start to the season. Manchester United signed Shaw in 2014 for £30 million. By that time, he’d already become a regular at Southampton, and his electric performances down the left had earned him comparisons to former alumnus Gareth Bale.
His time at Old Trafford has been ravaged by injuries. In fact, he’s made only 44 league appearances for the Red Devils so far in 4 seasons. He made 60 appearances for Southampton in just 2.
His second season at the club got off to a great start, until a horrific double leg break during a Champions League tie against PSV at the end of a challenge by Hector Moreno stopped play for nine minutes. He returned to training only 7 months later. However, his return to the pitch took almost a full year since the injury, as he helped United beat Leicester 2-1 to win the Community Shield in August 2016.
During the time he spent on the sidelines, Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho tried out several options at left back, namely Marcos Rojo, Daley Blind and Ashley Young.
Only Young, however, managed to truly solve a problematic position that United had been struggling to fill since Patrice Evra left the club. The former Aston Villa winger’s career had started to deteriorate before Mourinho converted him into one of the best left backs in England.
In fact, he was so good that he even earned himself a recall to the English national team, and was first choice for Gareth Southgate at left wing-back ahead of Danny Rose at the World Cup.
Mourinho helped Young hone his defensive skills, while still retaining his attacking instincts. He’s also a natural crosser of the ball, which helped him flourish in his new position. Soon, Luke Shaw became a forgotten man at the Theatre of Dreams, even after returning from injury.
However, with Young turning 33 last month, Mourinho needs a long term option for a problem that has just been solved. Shaw had begun to be linked with other clubs towards the end of last season, including Tottenham and Chelsea. The latter, in fact, had contested United back when they signed him from Southampton.
Juventus’ Alex Sandro and Spurs’ Danny Rose were reportedly top of Mourinho’s wish-list, but neither of those moves materialised in the summer. With Young still recovering from the World Cup and Daley Blind sold to Ajax, this has given Shaw a chance to start over.
He also had the benefit of a full pre-season, where he impressed Mourinho in an otherwise bleak start to the season. Following the win against Leicester, Jose even singled him and Andreas Pereira out for praise.
Young is possibly going to be fit on Sunday for the fixture against Brighton, but judging by Mourinho’s comments, and Shaw’s performances so far, the 33 year old is unlikely to start at left back.
For the first time since he arrived at Old Trafford, Shaw’s future is entirely in his hands. If he plays his cards right, he has a huge future ahead of him for Manchester United.
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