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Why is Luke Shaw failing to make the grade?

When Luke Shaw joined Manchester United he was coming off the back of making his international debut at the World Cup and he became the world’s most expensive teenager when the Reds signed him for a record £30 million from Southampton. His career seemed certain to go only 1 way, unfortunately, it hasn’t turned out the way we all had hoped it would.

The now 22-year-old is going through a tumultuous time at United, lacking game time, and when he does make an appearance is getting criticised by boss Jose Mourinho as well as the media. Amidst all the speculation about his future at United coming to an end this summer, why is it that the former Southampton man is failing to make the grade at Old Trafford?

The moment Shaw returned to pre-season in his first term at United back in 2014, he was immediately told by then boss Louis van Gaal, he was “not fit” enough to fit in the system the Dutchman was implementing at Old Trafford and put Shaw on a special fitness regime to get to the levels he required. Van Gaal told The Guardian back in 2014:

“He needs to be fit and is not very fit and fit enough to do what I want, he needs to train individually until he is fit.”

For the then 18-year-old to be dropped as soon as he joined the biggest club in the world was a major setback, and it appeared as if it took him a while to adjust to not only new club and surroundings but to a new style of playing that British football hadn’t seen before.

Shaw struggled to hold down a spot in Van Gaal’s United side and only made 16 appearances for the Red’s in his first season at Old Trafford. The second season started off with a lot more promise, after a good pre-season behind him where he appeared to impress Van Gaal. The Dutchman told The Guardian in 2015:

“I think that it shall be the season of Luke Shaw. I believe in him and he has to feel that and I hope he shall show it.”

Unfortunately, after five games into the season, everyone thought would be his breakthrough season at Old Trafford, he suffered a major leg break which put Shaw out for six months.

Since Mourinho’s arrival at United, Shaw has been much unfancied and Ashley Young, a winger predominantly has deputised which has certainly made Shaw feel undervalued at Old Trafford.

It’s unfortunate that the 22-year-old has failed as of yet to make an impact at United, but it is unfair to think that he has just lost form and isn’t good enough. He was one of the most exciting prospects in British football a few years ago and his talent is not just lost.

He has had a number of injuries since arriving at Old Trafford and has clearly not fully returned to full fitness or form since then. Injuries as well as suffering from a severe lack of confidence all points to reason that Shaw isn’t succeeding at United. He needs a run of games, for him to feel like he is trusted and valued and for the manager and players to show him he is still a major part of the club.

The left-back can still prove to be a United player for many years to come, and lay claim to a constant starting place, but it is going to take time for him to gain that, let’s just hope he is given that to prove that all the excitement surrounding his arrival four years ago wasn’t for nothing.

Written by Dan Pearce

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