It’s fair to say that Luke Shaw has endured a rocky time since moving from Southampton to Manchester United in 2014. The early stages of his career at the club were blighted by public criticism from Louis van Gaal, who called him out for being overweight and questioned his fitness having started pre-season training in poor condition. Shaw struggled with injury and only made 20 appearances during his first season, but returned to the club in excellent condition in the summer of 2015.
He started all of United’s first eight games before a shocking challenge by PSV Eindhoven’s Hector Moreno in a Champions League group stages game last September broke his leg in two places. Subsequent surgery was successful, but Shaw only returned to proper training in April of this year, and played no further part in United’s season.
Since returning from injury, live hasn’t exactly gotten any easier for Shaw at United. Jose Mourinho hasn’t been sold on him as his first choice left back, and has deployed Daley Blind and Matteo Darmian in the position already this season. The Portuguese has also publicly criticised him for a defensive mistake which led to a goal in United’s 3-1 defeat at Watford, and questioned the commitment of both him and Chris Smalling after United’s 1-3 victory over Swansea City this past weekend.
Mourinho’s comments could easily be construed as an attempt at ‘tough love’, in order to get the best out of Shaw, but given that the England international is still returning to fitness and normality after a potential career threatening injury, the manager’s comments feel ill-advised, at best.
Shaw could at least be ready for a return to first team action after this current international break according to The Guardian. United’s next game is November 19th at home to Arsenal, and the same report also suggest that his reason for pulling out of the United squad this past weekend was due to feeling pain in the same leg that was broken badly over a year ago. Of course, given Mourinho’s doubts over his mental application and willingness to sacrifice for his team, there’s no certainty that Shaw will be selected for the visit of the Gunners even if he is fit, but with the Portuguese insistent on a certain level of loyalty and willingness to sacrifice their bodies from his players, the sooner Shaw can return to fitness, the better for his United career.