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Luke Shaw’s time at Manchester United is fading. Does the penny need to drop to save his career…

How do you solve a problem like Luke Shaw? Or more to the point Shaw’s career? There is no doubt it’s stalling, it has been for some time now and it’s not good to see this happen at our club, a club who have traditionally developed very good, successful English players. We only have to look at the current England squad that has travelled to Russia; by this point in his career with the potential Shaw was showing when Manchester United signed him from Southampton back in 2014, he should no doubt be the regular England, and indeed United left-back.

Instead for both his club and country, he has very much lost his place to Ashley Young, a player who is essentially a right-winger converted in to a left back and for any potential world-class professional footballer that cannot sit well. So what has gone wrong? You could say the problems have been there from day one. He endured a frustrating start to his Manchester United career in the 2014/15 season, he had failed to convince then manager Louis van Gaal who openly criticised Shaw for not being physically fit enough to play in a system where he would be required to get up and down the pitch as a left-wing-back within a five at the back formation.

The 2015/16 season saw a transformation that everyone connected to Manchester had been looking. Finally, he had convinced the Dutch manager that he was fit enough and more importantly good enough to be the United left back for the foreseeable future.

For the first month of the 2015/16 season, Shaw was arguably United’s best player on form, he had put in some very notable performances for the club in the league and Europe showing everyone why United had invested the big money they had paid Southampton in 2014.  Then came a turning point in the young left back’s career. On the 15th September 2015 against PSV Eindhoven, Shaw suffered a broken leg after being on the receiving end of a heavy challenge from Mexican defender Hector Moreno.

Since Shaw’s horrific injury, which kept him out of the game for 10 months.  His career has been fading, he has returned looking overweight and plagued by this natural body shape that seems to restrict him from doing the job of a top-level modern-day full back.

By the time he had returned to first team action, United had a new manager at the helm, Jose Mourinho. It’s fair to say that these two have not enjoyed the best player and manager relationship. It was always going to be interesting to see how the Mourinho/Shaw dynamic would work when the latter returned from his injury. Mourinho, now the Manchester United boss had previously claimed that the England left-back had joined Manchester United for money and not footballing reasons when he was in charge at Chelsea after he had tried to sign him for the Blues during the summer of 2014 whereas we know he eventually joined United.

Jose Mourinho has not held back in his public criticism of Shaw, previously claiming that the full back’s positioning is nowhere near good enough and that the United number 23 is not capable of playing in his team without receiving direct instruction from the sidelines throughout a game.

Some people will say that the Portuguese manager’s criticism of Luke Shaw is justified and there is an argument to say that it is exactly that. It has been nearly two years now since the young left-back made his comeback from injury and it doesn’t look like he has shown the commitment in training and in his personal life to get back to his best. Instead, he shows off an excessive lifestyle through various social media platforms. This adds to the frustrations to the manager whose interest it is to improve the player so he can be an invaluable member of the team. It also frustrates supporters who not only see this kind of lifestyle unobtainable but also see a player that doesn’t give the impression that he is willing to give everything to be the best Manchester United player he can be.

Others will say that the way Mourinho has publicly criticised Shaw and let’s not forget other United players could become destructive and lead to a dressing room revolt.

We have to accept that we now live in an era where modern-day footballers can be sensitive souls and more and more of them need the proverbial arm around them letting them know “everything will be ok”, “just keep doing what you are doing”, “you’re doing well” etc. Who knows, Shaw may well feel that he has been used as a scapegoat to mask the frustrations of the manager for certain aspects of our play not always been up to standard the last two seasons.

However, whether the England international feels an injustice or not it’s clear that whatever he is doing right now to force his way in to the manager’s thoughts, isn’t working and if he is to become a successful Manchester United player surely he will have to make the necessary changes on and off the pitch. One thing is for sure he will not want his talent to go to waste and neither will anyone at the club.

Written by Joe Smith

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