So Luke Shaw maybe just maybe might be winning over Jose Mourinho. He stated his fourth match in a row last Friday against Derby in the FA Cup where he put in another excellent performance at left back and, in my opinion anyway, is getting somewhere back to the player we saw at the start of the 2015-16 season. In the summer of 2014, the then 18 year old was signed for around 30m pounds and £100,000 a week wages. It did take him a season to establish himself under then manager, Louis van Gaal, due to lifestyle issues and fitness problems before a reckless tackle brought about a cruel double leg break against PSV Eindhoven, he would not return till the following season, the start of the Mourinho reign.
It most definitely has not been sweetness and light for the young left back since the Portuguese manager has been at the helm. Initially as expected after such a long-term injury it was a softly softly approach at the start of the 2016-17 season though he did start the first six games for the Red Devils. But after a defeat away to Watford he was publicly criticised by his manager and his appearances in the first team became far less frequent, actually it became more of a surprise to see him in the 18 man squad let alone the first 11. The manager continued to rebuke the player when questioned about his absences and reports circulated that those bad habits of a poor lifestyle had crept back in which affected his fitness levels, plus the inevitable also occurred in regards of the fact that niggling injuries held him back. A bad attitude was also mooted. His season ended a tad ignominiously with an injury in the early stages of a match against Swansea, where he sustained ligament damage to his foot. To say the manager was not best pleased is an understatement.
NEW BLOOD WANTED
With reports Mourinho was on the look out for another left back in the summer of 2017, it was thought that Shaw would be sold once a replacement was sourced, especially as he was coming into the last year of his contract. However United had inserted an option of extending for a year, which they took up when no new left back was brought in. Mourinho continued with veiled criticism of the player through the early stages of this season and before December he had only made two appearances in the starting 11, both in EFL Cup ties one in September and one in October.
OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS – OPPORTUNITY TAKEN
However with a few injuries and suspensions, Shaw has forced his way in and has been getting significant recent playing time, especially since the beginning of December. And whilst at times he is a little bit rusty he has shown that he still has what It takes to perform. Towards the end of matches he does sometimes struggle, but that is just a lack of match fitness for me, once he gets that back I feel he will most definitely be able to get to that level of early 15-16. What his recent form also shows is that whilst Ashley Young has a right to arguably claim to be first choice left back on what he has shown when he has played that position with Shaw trying to get back to full fitness, Mourinho was massively biting his (and the teams) nose by starting Daley Blind or Matteo Darmian ahead of young tyro at left back. Their performances this season show that.
So after this season Shaw will have a year left on his contract, in the summer a decision will be made one way or another. Will he be sold? (for far less than was bought for too) or will a new contract be offered. The 22 year old is showing the potential he has at the moment and if his current form continues, he stays clear of injuries and continues his current lifestyle, as he looks as fit as he has ever done since his move up north, then a new contract will surely be forthcoming. Whether he signs it of course, now that is another story, he has had a difficult time at Old Trafford and there will be plenty of suitors for his signature.
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